Monday, September 28, 2015

Morgan Griffith on the Pope and John Boehner

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

"Pope and Change

We experienced an historic moment last week when Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress, the first Pope in our nation’s history to do so. I was in attendance to hear his remarks to the people of the United States.

Regardless of your religious beliefs or political leanings, Pope Francis’ words were thought-provoking. While others in the media have focused on other comments, I appreciated his having emphasized the importance of family and marriage, and was pleased when he said, “the golden rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of development.”

Also, fairly early in his remarks, Pope Francis referred to the fight of those aspiring to achieve the American Dream, mentioning “…the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day's work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and — one step at a time — to build a better life for their families.” On this, the Pope and I agree. On how people of other nations might come to the United States and participate in the American Dream, the Pope and I might disagree. Our laws on immigration clearly need to be simplified, but they must be followed.

Speaking of the American Dream, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) – himself a Catholic – has sought to get the Pope to the Capitol for approximately 20 years. And when I reflect now on Pope Francis’ allusion to the quest for the American Dream, I can’t help but think of the Speaker, who grew up working at his family’s modest bar in Ohio and who worked as a janitor to help fund his education.

In other words, Speaker Boehner spent his whole life chasing the American Dream. In few other nations, if any, could the son of a barkeep rise to such heights – Speaker of the House, second in succession for the Presidency.

On September 25, the day after Pope Francis’ remarks, Speaker Boehner announced he would be resigning from Congress at the end of October. While it is no secret that he and I had some disagreements, Speaker Boehner is an honorable, decent man. I respect him and his service, I respect his decision, and I am truly glad for him that, after many years of persistence and faith, he was able to host the Pope in our nation’s capital.

Leadership – whether leading a religious faith, a legislative body, or a different entity – is a challenging responsibility. As the House of Representatives prepares to move forward, many discussions will continue taking place regarding our future leadership. I will work closely and actively with my colleagues to find for the job a candidate or candidates who will follow regular order and the principles of Thomas Jefferson’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice. Currently, with the Republicans in control of the House, this should mean more conservative victories, and if the American people elect a Democrat majority, more victories for the left. After all, the House of Representatives by its design is supposed to reflect the will of the American people across the country.

Lately, under both Democrat and Republican speakers, a handful of people in back rooms make all of the decisions. I hope the next Speaker will return to allowing the Committee process and the floor to work its will for the betterment of the American people.

Change of a Different Type

Speaking of change, let’s talk about money – from nickels and dimes to billion-dollar deals.

Recently, with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI), I led a letter to President Obama calling for strong, enforceable protections against currency manipulation in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. 154 other Members of Congress signed on to our letter.

While I have serious concerns about TPP and especially the Trade Promotion Authority that Congress granted to the President, I firmly believe that we cannot get a good trade deal with countries if they continue to manipulate their currency and leverage an unfair trade advantage which hurts our American economy and decimates our businesses and jobs. Countries like China and Vietnam have been accused of doing this in the past.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives."