The Congress shall assemble

4th-of-July-ParadeThe Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, … –The Constitution

I am supportive of going in person and doing that legislative process. — Rep Tom Reed

Reed said that while he is supportive of returning to work at the Capitol, he understands his colleagues’ concerns, and feels virtual hearings and debate could potentially be a feasible alternative as the country continues to battle the health crisis. op. cit.

The authors of The Constitution clearly intended members to meet, debate, and vote. Could this be done without assembling? It would be a stretch to think this constitutional.

  • Our founders expected responsible debate.
  • Often speakers in the House today address an empty room.
  • Members are rushing home as soon as possible rather than socializing with others in The Capitol.

So are virtual hearings, debate, and remote voting acceptable? Can the constitutional requirement that Congress assemble be stretched to include virtual assembly?

Congress needn’t assemble in the Capitol building, they could choose another venue more suited to the times, which would allow sufficient social distancing. However, reasoning together may require rubbing shoulders with one’s fellows–it is a dilemma.

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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12 Responses to The Congress shall assemble

  1. Steven Beikirch says:

    I’d like to see Congress spend one week a month taking care of legislative matters and voting. One week a month working in their committees and two weeks a month in their districts taking care of constituent business.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our politicians have become professional fundraisers, not representatives. They need to spend time and their districts, but also to assemble to debate, not hate. It’s so much easier to hate someone that you don’t have to actually meet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. aramis says:

    I think History Trover has much of the right of it. We have established a system where fundraising crowds out legislation. Under the present system, incumbents must start raising money for their reelection immediately upon their swearing in. This opens the door for special interests.

    I don’t understand the hate reference. These people will take money from both people they love and people they hate. When gifted with enough money, they will vote to promote the interests of people they hate on issues they deplore.

    Look at the present Republican party. The party used to ostensibly stand for free market capitalism, smaller government and fiscal responsibility. They now don’t even hesitate to balloon the federal budget and increase the size of the federal government in service of corporations that are sinking due to Trump’s malfeasance. Many Republicans can’t stand Trump and lament (in private) what he has done to the party and the country. But they threw their principles away and jumped on the Trump train. Why? Because if they get off, they will lose power, they will lose money, their careers will be over.

    It’s not about hate or love. It’s about power. A good number of these people have no souls.


  4. whungerford says:

    The Republican Party once ostensibly stood for free market capitalism and fiscal responsibility, but not so much in reality. The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 subsidizing a transcontinental railroad was signed by President Lincoln. President Hoover understood the need for government spending to counter recession, thus we have the Hoover Dam. More recently Grover Norquist and others advocated reckless government spending to force the government to abandon those social programs he hated–Social Security and Medicare. Paul Krugman has noted that there is no competent economist in the Trump Administration today.


  5. Aramis says:

    Here’s a question for Republicans:
    Today, May 9, 2020…What does the Republican Party stand for?? What do you believe in??


  6. whungerford says:

    What does the Republican Party stand for? Historian Jill Lepore suggests an answer in the May 4th issue of “The New Yorker.” After discussing student protests and the ensuing backlash, she writes ”

    Nixon was well on his way to becoming the hero of the white working class, men and women, but especially men, who left the Democratic Party for the G.O.P. “These, quite candidly, are our people now,” Buchanan told Nixon. They were Nixon’s, and they were Reagan’s, and they are Trump’s.

    It isn’t that people who will vote for Trump believe what he says as much as he says what they wish to believe–that it is possible to return to a remembered time of domestic peace and prosperity.


  7. Aramis says:

    Richard Nixon was for free trade. He opened China. He also believed in a clean environment / more government regulation. The EPA was started in his administration.
    50 years ago, Republicans stood for government regulation in the service of public health and free trade.
    Two things that today’s Republicans don’t support.

    What do they support today? The New Yorker piece doesn’t come anywhere near answering that question.


  8. whungerford says:

    I believe it does answer: Many support Trump whatever he says of does.


  9. Aramis says:

    It is true that many Republicans are now Trumpers who support Trump whatever he says of does.
    BUT It is also true that many Republicans are NeverTrumpers who won’t support Trump whatever he says of does. George Conway, Bill Kristol, Michael Steele…

    I have friends in both camps.
    Trumpers are always nominally Republicans.
    Republicans are not always Trumpers.

    Trumpers do NOT espouse traditional Republican values. They have no need. They are told what to think, what to say, what to do. Their thoughts and opinions and actions are friable, subject to the whims of The Leader. They are very happy this way.
    Non-Trumpers are not so happy.

    Back to the original question..rephrased.

    I’ll rephrase the question:
    For Republicans non trumpers:
    What does the Republican Party stand for??
    What do you believe in??


  10. whungerford says:

    Sure there are Republicans who abhor Trump, but they are a powerless and relatively passive minority. They have let Trump take over the party apparatus and now can do nothing but complain about it. They could vote for Justin Amish or Joe Biden, both of whom may have more in common with traditional Republican values than DJT.


  11. Richelieu says:

    Here’s my point. Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have changed quite a bit over the last 50 years.

    The Republicans have abandoned their core principles with nothing to replace them, but xenophobia, racism and socialistic corporate welfare. They’ve been able to fool a lot of the people a lot of the time, but the huge corporate bailouts and willingness to sacrifice Seniors to the almighty buck are causing a lot of people to reevaluate their commitments. Angry white men will carry you so far. Trump’s abysmal coronavirus performance has many Republicans anxious.

    The Democrats long ago abandoned the blue collar worker (see Nafta) who was the backbone of their party which created a vacuum which Trump easily exploited. I am tickled pink to see Uncle Joe talking about the forgotten men and women of the USA. Finally! Let’s hope the walk matches the talk!

    There’s an ongoing tectonic realignment of both parties currently. This election will be interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. whungerford says:

    Some lost faith in Democrats as much as Democrats may have ignored some voter’s concerns. When the Democratic Party was linked to urban riots, anti-war protests and civil rights agitation, many were offended. Win or lose, I prefer a Democratic Party that opposes racism and believes in peace and justice for all.


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