We’ve discussed in previous blogging how the inordinate amount of time our members of Congress spend in Washington at their parties’ call centers raising campaign cash keeps them from studying the issues and getting things done.
Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida* has advocated my solution of requiring the House to put in a full work week during session. On 60 Minutes, last night, Rep. Jolly spoke about a bigger solution he has proposed—H.R. 4443, the Stop Act—which would ban members of Congress from directly asking for campaign cash.
Rep. Rick Nolan, Democrat from Minnesota, has joined Rep. Jolly to cosponsor the Stop Act. Rep. Nolan says the current fundraising demands placed on members by their parties are turning our Congresspeople into telemarketers:
Congressman Rick Nolan, a Democrat from Minnesota, is also co-sponsoring the Stop Act. Nolan was first elected to Congress in 1974 but served just six years. He returned in 2013.
Rep. Rick Nolan: It seems like I took a nap and I came back and I say, “Wow, what happened to this place? What’s happened to democracy?” I mean, the Congress of the United States has hardly become a democratic institution anymore.
Norah O’Donnell: Why?
Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, because of all the money in politics, in my judgment.
Norah O’Donnell: What has your party said about how members of Congress should raise money?
Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, both parties have told newly elected members of the Congress that they should spend 30 hours a week in the Republican and Democratic call centers across the street from the Congress, dialing for dollars.
Norah O’Donnell: Thirty hours a week?
Rep. Rick Nolan: Thirty hours is what they tell you you should spend. And it’s discouraging good people from running for public office. I could give you names of people who’ve said, “You know, I’d like to go to Washington and help fix problems, but I don’t want to go to Washington and become a mid-level telemarketer, dialing for dollars, for crying out loud.”
Norah O’Donnell: You’re saying members of Congress are becoming like telemarketers?
Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, 30 hours a week, that’s a lot of telemarketing. Probably more than most telemarketers do [Norah O’Donnell, “Are Members of Congress Becoming Telemarketers?” 60 Minutes, 2016.04.24].
Our Rep. Kristi Noem isn’t a sponsor yet. She should be. Better yet, rather than passing legislation to govern their own behavior, our current members of Congress should vow not to spend any time in the fundraising call center in Washington, at least not until they’ve passed a complete budget and cleared all the other bills off the Congressional calendar. And our Democratic candidates, Paula Hawks for House and Jay Williams for Senate, should vow to ignore those fundraising demands and never set foot in those D.C. call centers when they go to Washington to serve South Dakota.
We need Congresspeople, not telemarketers. We should say to Congress the same thing we say to distracted drivers: Get off the phone and drive… in this case, drive informed political discourse and intelligent policy solutions!
*Correction 18:20 CDT: As Rep. Schoenbeck notes below, I mislabeled Rep. Jolly’s home state. The good Congressman represents the 13th district in Florida, not Wisconsin. He has won support from two Wisconsin co-sponsors, Rep. Sean Duffy and Rep. Reid Ribble.