I owe our man in Washington, Representative Andy “Handgun” Harris, something of an apology. Periodically, I have accused him of not letting first District Voters know what he is up to. That has been frustrating. I want to know why Harris was at a December 2021 White House meeting where strategies to set aside the 2020 presidential election were discussed. Explanations for some of his other activities in Washington have also been nonexistent, or nearly so. For these reasons I have said that Harris is more interested in representing Trump in Congress than his constituents.
Last week I received Harris’ latest newsletter, addressed to “Dear Friend.” It includes a short report on the start of the 118th Congress. It is worth a look. You can sign up for Harris’ newsletter on his official website. My comments here focus on parts of the report that are troubling.
Harris tells us, “Republicans in the House of Representatives began the legislative year by reining in Biden’s reckless policies, opening up the People’s House, and delivering on our promises to the American people.” I wouldn’t put it quite that way. My introduction would be, “Republicans began the legislative year by wasting the time of the House of Representatives by passing legislation with no chance of enactment (given a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Biden’s veto pen) and passing rules changes that will make the House of Representatives less efficient and arguably more dysfunctional for the next two years.”
Harris’ statement that Republicans have “delivered on promises” is curious. Nothing has been delivered other than the empowerment of the fringe group of Republicans sometimes referred to as the Lunatic Caucus, members of which include Matt Gaetz, gun-loving Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the right-wing dentist Paul Gosar, and a dozen more MAGA Republicans. Harris is a member of this group but keeps his head down. He’s too smart to go on Fox News and tell African Americans they should like Confederate monuments because they are reminders of “how far they have come.”
Here are some of the things that, Harris boasts, Republicans have done in the first two months of Congress:
- Passed the 118th Congress Rules Package creating the most open, transparent, and accountable House Rules in at least two generations.
The rules package facilitates the ability of fringe groups and minorities in Congress, such as members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, to slow down legislation and demand meaningless “message” votes. Experts expect the 118th Congress will be the least productive in recent history. Sadly, that is the real intent of the Republican rules package—to prevent government from functioning.
- Passed The Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which defunds Joe Biden’s army of 87,000 new IRS agents and sends a clear message that we will not allow the Biden administration to continue to target middle-class Americans.
Harris doesn’t tell us that this bill has zero chance of enactment. And Harris knows as well as the rest of us that the “87,000 new IRS agents” authorized in legislation last year are not intended to target middle-class Americans. The agents would improve customer service (answering phones, delivering competent answers to tax questions asked, etc.) and crack down on tax cheating. President Biden has promised not to increase taxes on middle-class Americans, so why should the middle class fear a modernized IRS focused on getting people and corporations to pay already authorized taxes?
- Established a committee to investigate weaponizing the federal government.
First, it should be noted that the Republicans established a “select subcommittee” of the House Judiciary Committee to investigate “weaponization.” Chairman Jim Jordan plans to use the subcommittee to stage political theater, to disrupt on-going investigations of Trump and others involved in the January 6 insurrection, and to otherwise undermine the ability of the executive branch to govern. I don’t remember First District voters asking Harris to support this type of nonsense, do you?
- Condemned attacks on pregnancy centers.
Attacks on pregnancy centers should be condemned. How about attacks on family planning centers? Dr. Harris doesn’t remind readers of his newsletter of his anti-abortion position.
- Passed a Resolution denouncing socialism in all its forms and opposing the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America.
Do you know what “socialism in all its forms” is? I do not but I like social security and Medicare. And I wonder whether Harris would support a resolution denouncing fascism in all its forms and opposing the implementation of fascist policies in the United States of America?
In fairness to Harris, his list included two items that were not problematic for me, including the establishment of a Select Committee on China to investigate the Chinese Communist Party’s corrupting influence. I welcome Congress probing into what the Chinese are up to.
I have a few other nits to pick with Harris’ newsletter. First, it is ridiculous to blame President Biden for the increase in the cost of eggs. As a member of the House Chicken Caucus, Harris knows, or should know, that avian flu is wreaking havoc on the poultry industry. Secondly, Harris doesn’t address a few issues that are important to many of us in the First District. He offers no report on what he is doing to address climate change (unless you reference his call for a moratorium on offshore wind farms, which he supports out of the possibility it is contributing to whale deaths). He also doesn’t mention the war in Ukraine. Harris is co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus. On February 24, the Caucus issued a statement reiterating its full support of Ukraine, including providing military assistance. Harris should keep us informed of his leadership on this important issue. It is one of the few constructive things he is doing in Congress. I want to hear about it.
Andy Harris, please do not address me as “Dear Friend.” Until you divorce Donald Trump and start representing the First District, you will continue doing more harm than good in Congress.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.