SENATE IS MORE POWERFUL YET LESS REPRSENTATIVE


 

SENATE IS MORE POWERFUL YET LESS REPRESENTATIVE THAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
By Uriah J. Fields

{{The 100 members in the Senate have the power to dilute legislation passed by the 435 members of the House of Representatives or prevent it from becoming law. Senators have the filibustering prerogative that is not granted members of the House. This indicates that voter equality does not exists. When the state of  Wyoming with a population of 515,000 (about the same size population as Washington D. C.), can have two Senators, the same number of Senators as California with a population of 36,132.147 and the power to alter or void legislation proposed by members of the House, it is clear that the American form of Government is now, and has been for a long time, in dire need of reform. The intent of  the so-called Founding Father (and apparently there were some Founding Mothers in the shadow) was that the Senate would represent the Federal system, not the individual States, and that members of the House would primarily represent the individual state. Senators have insisted on assuming the role meant for House members. When the U. S. Constituton was ratified there were 3,929.827 people in the United States (less than four million people) today there are 300,000.000 (three hundred million people) in the United States.}} 

In the United States system of Government there are three branches of Govrnment, namely, the Legislative, Executive and Judical. Simply stated, Congress, the Legislative Branch makes the laws; the President, the Executive Branch enforces the laws; the Supreme Court, the Judicial Branch interprets the laws and determines whether they are constitutional. These three Branches considered to be checks and balances, assure that no part of the Govenment will become too powerful. Examples: the Congress can enact legislation that has been signed into law by the President that the Supreme Court may rule to be unconstitutional; the Congress may pass legislation that invalidates a decision made by the Supreme Court and the President may veto legislation passed by Congress and by executive order enforce or create legislation by executive order as President Harry S. Truman did in 1948 when he integrated the Armed Forces. At the time I was in the Army and it was nearly two years before I was in an integrated outfit, other than having white officers that had existed from the day I entered the military.

The focus of this discourse is on Congress and more particularly on the need for Congress to be refomed. Congress enacts legislation on the federal level that supersedes state laws. Congress is composed of 435 members. Apportionment takes place every 10 years, following the taking of the census, that determines whether a state will maintain the same number, lose or gain one or more representatives. The total number of representatives remains 435.

The Senate is composed of 100 Senators, two Senators from each of the fifty states. This number remains constant unless another state is added to the union. It is inconceivable that there may ever be fewer states. All total there are 535 members in the Congress.

This existing arrangement has weaknesses that makes for voting inequality and the denial of true democracy. This happens because the U.S. Constitution is oudated, notwithstanding the 27 Amendments that have been added to the document. The biggest fault with the Constitution is that it does not permit the change that an increase in population warrants. Presently there are more than 300,000.000 people in the United States, not the 3,929.827 there were when the Constitution was adopted on Sepember 17, 1787. At that time it had no provision for women, so-called Native Americans or African Americans who were slaves, to vote.

Recently, two authors, both residents of Charlottesville, Virginia, who I have personally communicated with, published books that address the matters of the Constitution and Congress.

They are: Larry Sabato, University of Virgina professor and author of "A More Perfect Constitution" and David Swanson, a leading voice for the prosecution of former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney and author of "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union."

Sabato proposes that the House of Representatives be composed of 1,000 (instead of the present 435)members and the Senate be expanded to 136 (instead of the present 100 members) and that the most populous states receive 2 additional Senators, the 15 next most populous states 1 additional Senator, and the Washington District of Columbia (that at present does not have a Senator) receive 1 Senator.

David Swanson calls for a bigger House of Represenatives than presently exists and abolition of the Senate. He noted  that currently each member of the House of Representatives is expected to represent 690,000 people and that the House is the same size it was in 1910, when the same 435 members were expected to represent approximately 213,000 people each. In 1860, 183 members represented about 100,000 constituents each.

Both Sabato and Swanson make interesting recommendations that deserve to be seriously considered by Americans. However, my proposal is different and more timely. I maintain that genuine reform of the Congress can take place with the House having 435 members and the Senate100 members.

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For California with a population of 36,132.147 to have two Senators and Montana with a population of 945,000 to have two Senators is ludicrous as Sabato and Swanson have rightly observed. California has 53 members in the House of Representatives and Montana has 1 member in the House. Other states with 1 Representative are states with populations of less than a million people. Included are: South Dakota 782,000, Alaska 670,000, North Dakota 636,000, Vermont 624,000 and Wyoming 515.000. Washington D.C., a city with 582,000 people does not have a Senator, not withstanding that it has a population greater than Wyoming. Maine with a populatioin of 1,274,923 and Rhode Island with a population of 1,048.31, each has 2 members in the House of Representatives. In these two states one person represent 624,000 and 525,000 people, respectively. Each of California's 53 House members represent approxiamtely 680,000 people, in contrast to Wyoming where one member represents 515.000 people. There are nine cities in the United States with populations larger than six states with Dallas, Texas being the ninth largest city with a population of 1,240.499. These facts are given in detail to assist the reader in recognizing the importance of reforming Congress. It is also worth pointing out that South Dakota receives $2.13 for every dollar it pays to the Federal Government. That state is not alone in receiving more money from the Federal Government than it contributes to the Federal Government. Yet, a number of states with large populations that contribute more money to the Federal Government than they receive have the most poverty, the most malfunctioning education systems (especially in so-called minority communities), the highest rate of unemployment, the highest rate of crime and contribute the greatest number of people to the prison system. It is conceivable that if California received equal funding as did South Dakota California would not have the highest deficit in the nation but would have a balance budget - be debt-free. Of course, where would that money come from? unless we borrowed it from China. Some of these States receiving more money from the Federal Govenment than they contribute are among those calling for the Federal Government to have a balance budget. Yet, they are constantly looking for a handout from the Fedeal Government and demanding that the Federal Govenment operate military bases that should have been closed shortly after World War II. And when there is a natural disaster in the state, even a mild one, they call on the Federal Government for financial aid. It would seem that those states calling on the Fedeal Government to have a balance budget would consider having sufficient funds in their state budgets to fund state disasters. So, the Federal Government has to fund the state when the state is in trouble but the Federal Government cannot turn to the state for funds when it is in trouble or to balance the federal budget. You can hear today from the balance the federal budget advocates: "cut taxes! of course for the rich, and "no deficit spending by the Federal Government." It dosen't matter for them that tens of thousands of people are homeless and millions do not have medical care that is available to Congresspersons and the rich. Some of these people argued against the "stimulus funding" and maintain, even today, that it has been a curse, not a blessing. Yet, these politicians tell their constituents and show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies celebrating new bussiness developments that they are responsible for bringing funds to their to states that were appropriated by the American Recovery and Investment Act, (a $787 Billion Economic Stimulus) which they (Republicans) in the Congress refused to vote for its passage. These hippocrites should have refused to accept stimulus money. I think if they had their constituents would be on them as my Grandmother use to say, "Like white on rice." They likely would not be reelected. There is one thing that I prize myself in having in common with Jesus who said more than a few times: "Woe unto you hippocrites!" I too am hard on hippocrites. 
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For those like Sabato and Swanson, who advocate having more Representatives in Congress I think it is important to understand that Congresspersons have huge staffs to asist them. Some of their staff members are paid as much ss $167.000 a year. After all, delegating duties and responsiblities to others is what effective leaders do. Question: Do wee need more than one President? Probably not. The President depends on members of his team to do much of what needs to be done. Effective Congrespersons do likewise. I fear more Congresspersons would also mean more lobbyists who now seem to have nearly as much power as elective officials. They are playing an ever-increasing role in determining who will be elected to Congress. The power lobbyists possess has to be curtailed if our democratic system of Government is to survive with any creditability. To accelerate and increase the influence of lobbyists a recent decision by the Supreme Court has ruled that lobbyists and controllers of corporations can spend as much money as they want to elect politicians. This will further undermine the American democratic system. The average voter who has little or no money to donate to politicians will be left without a repesentative. True, "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

This writer recommend that the House and Senate operate with the same rules. This would prevent the Senate from wheeling power the House cannot match. Two examples: the 60 votes to pass legislation and the filibuster rule in the Senate mean that even when the House passes legislation with a bare majority the Senate may be unable to pass similar legislation with a majority or when the House passes a bill with a great majority the Senate may render will it void. Today, a Senator who is more distant from his constituents has more power than a member of the House who must face voters every two years while he, the Senator, faces voters once every six years.  I would also recommend that members of both the House and Senate be elected every four years.

With the House and Senate operating by the same rules Congress will be less effective or much more effective in taking care of the people's business. I am convinced that the latter would be true. This will also be the answer to the filibuster. Any attempt for Congresspersons to do less than they are doing will cause people to rise up in a way that will make last summer's town hall meetings look like dress rehersals. Such ineffectiveness will cause people to protest and take to the streets by hundred of thousands, maybe millions. The people will demand that their Congressperson who receives a salary in the amount of $174,000 plus representational allowances ranging from $1,262,065 to $1,600,539 do what he or she was elected to do. The salary for the Speaker is  $223,500 and Majority leader $193.400.

To reiterate, with the House and Senate operating with the same rules Congresspersons will put the people's business ahead of partisan politics. This, nothing less, the people deserve from their Congresspersons.

 

Copyright 2010 by Uriah J. Fields

To read other writings of Uriah J. Fields, including essays, articles, commentaries and prose poetry,
visit: www.authorsden.com  Click "F" and locate authors name. 

 

 




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