Views & Perspectives | Impeachment a waste of time; Pass legislation to solve our most pressing problems

RAY LAHOOD

RAY LAHOOD

Now that the Mueller Report is complete, it is time for Congress to begin debating and solving the country’s most pressing problems. More to follow further in this column.

It seems the House of Representatives under the control of the Democratic Party would rather spend valuable time further investigating the Trump administration. I believe this is a waste of precious time. Democrats were able to become the majority party in the U.S. House running on an agenda to fix our broken infrastructure, fix our broken immigration system, improve health care coverage for all Americans, lower the price of prescription drugs and get our fiscal mess fixed by reducing our $2 trillion debt.

Having presided over the last impeachment proceedings of President Clinton, I can tell you it is almost impossible to impeach a president. Impeaching an American president is rare. It’s only happened twice in American history –– to President Andrew Johnson and President Bill Clinton –– and neither of those times resulted in a president being removed from office.

To be impeached, a president or other federal official must have committed one of the violations described by the Constitution as “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” But history shows that if a president is to be impeached, the biggest factor may be political will –– whether members of a President ‘s own party are willing to turn against him and whether enough members of Congress believe that trying to remove the president is worth the risk of losing popular support.

To impeach a president, the House of Representatives must pass articles of impeachment which formally accuse the president of misbehavior. Once the House votes to impeach as was the case with President Johnson and President Clinton, the United States Senate must hold a trial to decide if the president should be removed from office. In the cases of President Johnson and President Clinton, the U.S. Senate decided against removal. I believe if the current U. S. House under Democratic control proceeded to impeach President Trump, the current U. S. Senate under the control of Republicans would never vote to remove President Trump.

A lot of time would be wasted going down this path and the American people would be ill served in terms of Congress addressing and solving other more important issues. Also, in 18 months President Trump will stand for election and the American people will decide if he should be removed from office.

Now to the much more important issues of the day. Congress should immediately consider and pass a big, bold transportation and infrastructure bill to fix our crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems. In order to pay for these improvements, I suggest raising the gas tax 10 cents a gallon and index future gas tax increases to the cost of living.

Until the last few years, America lead the world in infrastructure. Today our infrastructure is like the roads and bridges in third world countries. These infrastructure improvements will put our friends and neighbors to work fixing the roads and bridges but also create the kind of economic recovery necessary to attract jobs and investments.

Our immigration system is broken. Congress should enact comprehensive immigration reform to provide a path for citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants living in America. These immigrants are currently doing the work and jobs such as landscaping, agricultural work, service jobs in restaurants and hotel and construction jobs. These are jobs Americans do not want to do. The chaos at our southern border and President Trump’s insistence on building a wall along the southern border certainly could be incorporated into comprehensive immigration legislation. Congress should pass the “DREAM ACT” and solve these problems and issues.

Congress is considering a renewed NAFTA trade agreement between America, Canada and Mexico. Congress should debate and pass this important trade agreement which will be a boon to agriculture and companies like Caterpillar that sell many of their products overseas.

Other issues such as health care, high prescription drug prices and our $2 trillion debt also need to be addressed. Congress needs to work through the summer to keep faith with the American people and carry out the promises they made during the last campaign.

Ray LaHood



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