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Lame Duck

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The new Congress is about to convene. The new leadership should consider changing a tradition left over from the previous Congress. Columnist Derek Hunter put it this way: “It’s time to kill the lame duck.”

He makes a convincing case that it is time to abolish lame duck sessions in Congress. He asks, “why should people whom the voters unambiguously said they no longer wish to have represent them have two full months to do just that in every conceivable and legally binding way?” He proposes an amendment that Congress ends its session before a federal election.

These last few lame duck sessions illustrate the problem. Members of Congress postpone important decisions about the budget or major pieces of legislation until after the election. They stuff budget bills with payoff pork. They rush to pass major pieces of legislation (like Obamacare) without even reading the bills.

Derek Hunter even argues that no recess appointments, pardons, or new regulations should be made during this time. We have seen outgoing presidents pardon people who would never have been pardoned if they had been running for re-election. And we have seen presidents make recess appointments when Congress wasn’t even in recess. The mischief that takes place during this time of year has to stop.

I can think of many precedents that illustrate why we should kill the lame duck session. In the parliamentary system used in many countries, a vote of no confidence ends your opportunity to do mischief in government. In the British system the prime minister has 24 hours to vacate 10 Downing Street. That transition of power is stunning in its speed and efficiency.

Or look at the private sector. If a boss fires an employee, that employee isn’t allowed to stay on the job for another two months. I think we all know what would happen if a fired employee was allowed to stay on the job for an extended period of time.

It’s time for Congress to prevent this from happening again. It is time to kill the stupid tradition of allowing a lame duck Congress to stay in office and do mischief for months.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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