For years Republican Congress members chafed at President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders to replace legislation that never was passed. Donald Trump’s similar use of the presidential decree privilege gave Democrats a bitter taste of their own medicine.
We hope the experience and the ill feelings it has engendered — between the parties and among U.S. residents against all lawmakers — has chastened enough members that they plan to begin the next congressional session committed to doing the job they were elected to do: offer and debate legislation that originates in the Capitol, not in the Oval Office.
In order for that to happen, this country needs to see more from their representatives than they have in recent years. Much recent action in Congress has been little more than proposals that are meant to elicit support from a party’s political base, with the opposition dedicated to stopping it.
What we need is legislation that addresses our country’s basic needs. Once it is submitted, members of the two major parties can use their differences to foster earnest debate that addresses all sides of the issue, rather than refusing to consider reasonable points made by the other side.
Much of that proposed legislation, and most of the debate that needs to go with it, can originate right here with the South Texas delegation. Key issues that both Obama and Trump have addressed through executive order involve immigration, citizenship and international trade. While all these topics are of critical importance to the entire country, they especially affect South Texas most directly.
Many of the people who enter this country from the south, both legally and illegally, pass through local ports of entry. We know through firsthand experience the problems and frustrations border law enforcement agencies have as they try to keep unauthorized entry to a minimum. We see the additional struggles, and corresponding risks, that come with our current policies of drug interdiction. But we’ve also seen that building expensive, immobile barriers have had little success, and even more of them aren’t likely to do any better. Presidential decrees rather than legislation lack the debate and expert testimony that provide evidence that such efforts aren’t effective or worth the cost, and why they aren’t.
Likewise, much of the goods that enter the United States from Latin America pass through our ports. That trade and the financial mechanisms that support it affect our local economy directly. Any impediments to trade such as unwarranted tariffs cause ripples that affect the entire nation, but those ripples begin right here at the border.
Our congressional delegation has worked well together and championed our legislative needs energetically. And while they have shown similar energy in rising up against actions and policies they consider harmful, they have shown a preference and ability to work for common goals rather than against opposing views. As the next legislation approaches, we trust that they will work together to present and support legislation that not only benefits their districts, but brings reason and comity to many of the issues that currently are being used to tear our nation apart.