“The Senate is broken, and only a change in leadership can fix it.”
The Republican-controlled Senate “brought new meaning to the idea of a do-nothing Congress” in 2019 by not taking a single vote the entire year on legislation to advance social or economic justice in the United States.
That’s according to a new analysis (pdf) by the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, which announced Monday that for the first time in nearly 50 years the group couldn’t create its annual scorecard for the Senate in 2019 because the chamber “did not cast enough votes on legislation… to compile an adequate voting record.”
“In Network’s 47-year history, we have never seen a Senate take absolutely no votes on issues of economic justice that could be scored on our Catholic Social Justice Voting Record.”
—Sister Simone Campbell, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
“This is shocking,” Sister Simone Campbell, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “In Network’s 47-year history, we have never seen a Senate take absolutely no votes on issues of economic justice that could be scored on our Catholic Social Justice Voting Record.”
The group’s scorecard on the Democrat-controlled House’s 2019 voting record found that the chamber passed more than 400 bills, most of which died in what critics have called the “legislative graveyard” of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“McConnell’s Senate Graveyard is a shocking failure in leadership and an immoral act of partisanship,” said Campbell. “This obstruction will not be forgotten in the 2020 election.”
Network cited a number of examples of House-passed legislation that would advance economic and social justice in the U.S. if signed into law, including:
- The Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582), which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025;
- The For the People Act (H.R. 1), a slate of democracy reforms that would institute automatic voter registration nationwide and establish a small-donor matching system;
- The Equality Act (H.R. 5), which would establish strong anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community; and
- The Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), which would restore and expand the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
McConnell, who has dubbed himself the “grim reaper” of progressive policies, has not allowed any of the above bills to reach the Senate floor for a vote.
“The Democrat-led House has paved the way for the economic and social transformation that our nation so desperately needs,” said Campbell. “The House has passed bills that support employment rights, reduce drug prices, protect Dreamers, and secure our democracy. If passed into law, these bills will help create a society that faithfully promotes justice and the dignity of all.”
By contrast, Campbell said, “the Senate is broken, and only a change in leadership can fix it.”
“That’s why Network will mobilize our Catholic membership in 2020 to elect new leaders who support economic justice,” said Campbell. “We know the path forward. The only way to see it through is to vote.”