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The ‘Try-Nothing’ Congress | Commentary

By Rep. David Jolly The recent resignation of the speaker of the House presents the nation and Congress with the opportunity to restore leadership to a body defined today not by what it accomplishes, but by its failure to act in the face of our most pressing challenges.  

That is why today’s Congress must change, and why it is right that our leadership now change. We must restore direction to a body that has become listless, a body that governs only by crisis, a body that remains consumed more by palace intrigue than by governing.  

Representatives are chosen by their communities to serve as custodians of the public trust.  

That trust has eroded — through both the inaction of current congressional leadership, and at the hands of those in Congress who consistently sow discord at the expense of governing.  

The simple fact is the greatest challenges we face as a nation are not being meaningfully addressed today. They are in most instances not even being considered. We have essentially transcended from the “do-nothing” Congress to the “try-nothing” Congress. And this current inaction is a conscious, deliberate, politically calculated decision by those in House leadership — both Republican and Democrat.  

The hard truth is leadership has done nothing to reach a substantive agreement to reduce our crippling debt. It refuses to allow full debate on a comprehensive border security measure. It has failed to honor our national security responsibility of debating whether we are a nation committed to defeating the Islamic State and terror organizations that wish to do us harm. It walked away from a position of strength confronting the president’s nuclear giveaway with Iran. It has failed to address the economic needs of our state through true patient freedom initiatives for our veterans and main street initiatives that grow jobs. And the list goes on.  

I ran for Congress to tackle hard issues, to call it like I see it, to give voice to those who have given me the honor to serve. I ran to do the people’s work and address the greatest challenges we face today, together and on behalf of our community, our state, and our nation.  

Inaction is often the safer political route for a Congress whose primary interest is re-election. My primary interest is governing. I would rather lose an election knowing we actually solved hard problems in Congress than protect my own political career through deliberate and calculated inaction.  

Shortly after taking office, I created a stir in the halls of Congress by suggesting we go in session Mondays at 8 a.m. and adjourn Fridays at 6 p.m. It was my way to ask Congress to get back to work. This week, amidst the chaos of a fractured House and the irresponsible strategy of a government shutdown, I have reintroduced the proposal.  

It is this type of commitment we should demand from any candidate who now stands for speaker. We must demand someone who promises not merely leadership, but change — real change, a type of change rarely accomplished simply by a symbolic reshuffling of current leaders.  

The change I hope the Congress will embrace amidst our current self-inflicted chaos is about restoring greatness of leadership to an institution I care deeply about, an institution I sincerely believe in, an institution capable of leading the world in our darkest days and in our finest moments — an institution we call the United States House of Representatives, or more appropriately the people’s House.  

Boehner last week put the country and the people’s House ahead of his own interests. The question every republican in Congress now faces, indeed every Republican across the country, is whether we will set aside our differences and do the same.  

Rep. David Jolly is a Republican from Florida. 

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