Congressman Tom Cole
Congressman Tom Cole

This week, lawmakers in both chambers of Congress return for the first legislative session week in the calendar year. While a new year often ushers in hopeful anticipation about what can be achieved over the next 12 months, it’s important to remember that the divided government which shaped 2019 will continue to influence 2020. And if last year’s highly polarized environment serves as any guide for what to expect from the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, there will sadly be more political games, delaying or preventing bipartisan wins and critical work for the American people. Throughout much of last year, House Democrats wasted a lot of time making political points through their radical legislative agenda, partisan investigations and deeply flawed impeachment process. On the legislative front, this included the introduction and consideration of numerous nonstarter bills with no chance of passing the Republican-led Senate or receiving the president’s signature. In early March, Democrats brought to the floor an enormously misguided piece of legislation that would limit free speech, weaken election security, disrupt the constitutional roles of states and redirect hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns. Despite claims to the contrary, the Democrats’ hallmark H.R. 1 was not a bill to ensure more American citizens can exercise their right to vote or participate in making their views heard. Rather, the misnamed “For the People Act” was a brazen attempt to rewrite voting laws, election laws and campaign finance laws to get more Democrats elected. At the end of April, the House Rules Committee, where I serve as Ranking Member, conducted a hear- ing on the Democrats’ Medicare for All, which would pave the way for the one-size-fits-all, government-run healthcare system. In order to pay for such an expansive overhaul, it would require massive tax increases. Not to mention, it would force more than 150 million Americans off their current health care plans – even if they like their coverage. Even more outrageous, Democrats in both chambers rolled out their so-called Green New Deal, which is really socialism masking as environmentalism. Though billed as the means to save the earth from destruction, only a small part of the plan addresses environmental policy. In fact, much of the proposal’s cost would go toward purely socialist policies – like a federal job guarantee and “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” For months last year, Democrats played politics amid an ongoing and worsening humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. While Democrats spent very little time reaching across the aisle to get things done, I was encouraged that they did come around to tackle some urgent legislative items as the year was wrapping up. After nearly a year of political games and further dividing Congress and the country with their flawed impeachment, I was encouraged that lawmakers in both chambers still managed to authorize vital funding for the Department of Defense, to prevent a government shutdown by passing full-year appropriations and to finally advance the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to the Senate. Let’s hope we see more such bipartisan cooperation in 2020.