The 118th Congress turns out to be do-nothings, passing three laws in the Inland Empire during 2023


In-house fighting, motivated by a culture of polarization between legislators, has hindered the House of Representatives ability to get anything done.

April Butler | Contributor

Inter-party conflict has been an obstacle that circumvents the duties of the legislative branch, primarily their duty to collaborate. These conflicts have encroached on efforts to pass legislation by Inland Empire (IE) representatives, who only managed to sponsor three laws in the past year. While these laws are necessary, there are more pressing issues to be resolved in IE, such as rising homelessness, addiction, the mental health crisis and poor air quality. Congress squandered time electing a Speaker of the House in 2023 while more important concerns went ignored. There is a serious deficiency of bipartisanship in Congress, and without a collaborative partnership, there is no way to work across party lines to get laws passed.

With House representatives taking the legislative process personally, the future for the IE doesn’t look too bright. Nothing can be expected of a congressional party as complacent as this one, demonstrating reactivity and not proactivity. The 118th shows no signs of being able to anticipate problems and take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. Instead, they create new ones or wait for things to unfold before responding.

Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy was removed from the Speaker’s office on Oct. 3, making him the first Speaker in U.S. history ever to be voted out. Members of his party ousted him for agreeing to work with Democrats to keep the federal government open. Electing a new Speaker was the primary obstacle that hindered all 2023 legislation, leaving little time for productivity. From 2011 through 2013, the 112th Congress managed to pass 284 bills. Congress has passed an average of 355 in the past five years during an entire two-year term. Now, the 118th has only passed 34 bills so far, putting them on track to becoming the most unproductive Congress in modern history.

In total, 34 bills were passed, three by members of the IE. Rep. Pete Aguilar, the same person who also told Southern California News Groups that “Democrats had no obligation to help Republicans out the hole they’d dug for themselves,” passed the Wounded Warriors Access Act, which provides an online tool for veterans to request records regarding Veterans Affairs (VA) claims and benefits.

Rep. Darrell Issa sponsored the “Pala Band of Mission Indians Land Transfer Act of 2023,” granting the Pala Band’s Indians’ reservation 720 additional acres of ancestral land in San Diego County. Supplementing this bill, Rep. Mark Takano sponsored the Korean American VALOR Act, making specific members of the South Korean Military eligible for VA benefits if they served between the years of 1962 and 1975. Though these motions are certainly necessary, not all bills are created equal. Passing a law that provides an online tool for veterans isn’t the same as sponsoring one that will reshape the nation. There are many other pressing issues to be addressed.

The IE currently has an extended carbon footprint of over 1.6 billion square feet due to warehouse expansion, which generates over 535,000 truck trips a day. These trucks produce greenhouse gas emissions and poison the air. While warehouses expand, so does the IE’s carbon footprint. Nothing has been done to address this issue because problems like these don’t put money into the pockets of reactive politicians and city planners who are too self-serving to find ample solutions that would benefit constituents and not the House, which seems to be working against the country instead of for it.

Drug overdoses have increased significantly in the U.S. in the past 10 years. Compared to California and the U.S., Riverside County has had the largest increase over that period. These numbers continued to rise in 2023 and proceed, with no indication of a downtrend. Legislatures are adhering to low-budget bills that don’t cause ample change because it is easier than addressing violent crime issues in San Bernardino.

Congress does not have viable solutions to resolve the problems within the republic because representatives are too busy creating conflict. This leaves the IE and the rest of the country in the same turmoil as last year. Even with the predicted upcoming spike in bills this October, since the president does not sign half of them until the last three months of the congressional term, the 118th Congress will have only enacted a determined total of 102 pieces of legislation. With a working pace as sedated as this, it’s no wonder Representatives have done so little to achieve anything that would merit any indication of improvement in the IE.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various author’s articles on this Opinion piece or elsewhere online or in the newspaper where we have articles with the header “COLUMN/EDITORIAL & OPINION” do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints or official policies of the Publisher, Editor, Reporters or anybody else in the Staff of the Hemet and San Jacinto Chronicle Newspaper.

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