In early January 2015 the 114th U.S. Congress will convene for the first time. As a result of the Nov. 4 election, both chambers will be controlled by Republicans.
|Senators in the 114th Congress|
Some of the new senators, such as Joni Ernst of Iowa and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, are quite conservative. Consequently, I have four serious concerns about the new Congress.
Personally, I will likely be impacted little by the new Congress. In fact, my modest portfolio might grow even more than it has in the past two years. So my concerns are not personal.
But my Christian faith compels me to love all people, especially the weakest and most vulnerable people in our country, as well as to care for the earth God has placed us on. So from this perspective here are four of my greatest concerns about what the new Congress and the new Missouri legislature will, or will not, do.
(1) My first and biggest concern is for the poor people across the nation, the people (and especially the children) who do not have enough to eat, who do not have adequate housing, and who do not have sufficient health care.
Conservative, Tea Party type legislators seem to be primarily interested in reducing the size of government and lowering taxes. Cuts in welfare, or the so-called safety net, are common proposals for those with this mentality.
But, for the well-being of a sizable percentage of people in poverty, in addition to sustaining their welfare provisions there needs to be an expansion of Medicaid eligibility.
Missouri is one of many states where the latter is badly needed. But with the new General Assembly, that likely won’t be done.
And while their efforts will not be successful, the U.S. Senate will possibly try to repeal “Obamacare,” removing millions from healthcare insurance.
(2) I am also concerned about the new Congress exercising adequate care for the environment. Republican congresspeople, such my Missouri Sixth District Representative Sam Graves, repeatedly criticize regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency, whose purpose is to protect the earth for the coming generations.
And it is quite likely that Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a global warming denier, will be the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Heaven help us!
(3) Concern for the children of “illegal immigrants.” Immigration reform has long been a major desire of the President and many legislators.
The Senate passed a comprehensive bill last year, but the House never even took it up. I am very concerned that this needed legislation will not be passed and that the President will take executive action leading to turmoil and even greater dysfunction in Washington.
(4) Concern for women and gays/lesbians as there is the likelihood of further anti-abortion laws and rejection of LGBT rights.
One does not have to agree with women who seek an abortion or of gays/lesbians who want to have legal marriages in order to uphold their civil rights.
If the new U.S. Congress passes legislation necessary to help the poor of the country to survive and to raise what is often a wretched standard of living, passes legislation that will protect the environment for the sake of our grandchildren, passes legislation that will give dignity and stability to the past and future immigrants into this country, and if they pass legislation that respects the freedom and dignity of women and LGBT people, then perhaps the election results were all right.
But until I see all the above happening, I will continue to have grave concerns about the election outcome on November 4.