Ten long years ago, before Tiger King and murder hornets, and when Brexit was just a gleam in Nigel Farage’s eye, Republicans loudly denounced officials in the Democratic Party who foisted a 906-page document on members of Congress shortly before the vote to pass the bill. The Democrats’ tactics to pass Obamacare helped launch the Tea Party movement, and Republicans began demanding that members of Congress must have enough time to read a bill before they have to vote on it.
On Monday, a self-described democratic socialist got with the Tea Party’s message on the issue. Surprise, surprise: even far-Left members of Congress don’t like getting forced to vote for a bill before they know what’s in it.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the infamous socialist leader of “The Squad,” complained about a measure in the COVID-19 stimulus bill just before Congress voted to pass it on Monday night. Among other things, the bill would make illegal streaming a felony — because penalizing people who pirate video content totally helps fight the pandemic.
“This is why Congress needs time to actually read this package before voting on it,” AOC tweeted. “Members of Congress have not read this bill. It’s over 5000 pages, arrived at 2pm today, and we are told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours. This isn’t governance. It’s hostage-taking.”
AOC then insisted that the general public should be able to read a bill — what a concept! “And by the way, it’s not just members who need to see the bill ahead of time – YOU do. The PUBLIC needs to see these bills w enough time to contact their rep to let them know how they feel. Members are reeling right now bc they don’t have time to consult w/ their communities,” she concluded.
And by the way, it’s not just members who need to see the bill ahead of time – YOU do.
The PUBLIC needs to see these bills w enough time to contact their rep to let them know how they feel.
Members are reeling right now bc they don’t have time to consult w/ their communities.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 21, 2020
AOC’s important complaint does not mean the democratic socialist has joined the Tea Party, of course. She still supports big government solutions to pretty much everything and even seems to think her value as a human being comes from big government.
Yet Republicans formerly associated with the Tea Party found themselves agreeing with none other than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“[AOC] is right. It’s ABSURD to have a $2.5 trillion spending bill negotiated in secret and then—hours later—demand an up-or-down vote on a bill nobody has had time to read,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted with the message “Congress is broken.”
.@AOC is right.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 21, 2020
Seb Gorka noted that even AOC is right, occasionally.
What do they say about broken clocks .. https://t.co/fNSxk1z9EI
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) December 22, 2020
Despite AOC’s correct complaints about the COVID-19 stimulus bill’s rollout, the congresswoman herself pulled the lever for the stimulus, unlike the other members of her “Squad.” Cruz, meanwhile, voted against the measure.
Both this COVID-19 stimulus bill and Obamacare passed quickly because of the sorry state of America’s congressional dialogue. Republicans and Democrats fundamentally disagree, and the partisanship is only getting worse. How can two groups work together to solve nationwide problems when they can’t agree on whether or not a woman is a woman, for instance?
Occasionally, however, Congress does need to act. In the case of Obamacare, Democrats barely had large enough majorities to foist their will on the American people without much of a check, and so Democratic leaders rammed a bill down their members’ throats. In the case of this stimulus bill, Congress needed to pass something before all the benefits expired and before members went home for Christmas. Party leaders sat down and hammered out a deal, knowing that other members of Congress would have little choice but to vote for it.
This is not the way Congress should work. Representatives should openly debate issues and come to compromises that benefit the American people as a whole, rather than relying on backroom deals at the last second. Sadly, until Republicans and Democrats can agree on the basics, there is little hope for necessary dialogue.
At the very least, AOC’s complaint should make Democrats wary of repeating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare shenanigans. It should also remind Georgians of what happened the last time Democrats held the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate — and why it is so important for a Republican Senate to check the power of incoming President Joe Biden.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.