Politics

“No One is Above the Law” – Including Congress

congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Impeachment leader Adam Schiff (D-VA) spent November repeating a time-tested line: “No one is above the law.”  This weekend, Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell trumpeted it. Next week, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) will.  The line raises problems, little discussed.

First, the American people are not stupid.  They know laws apply equally to all Americans.  They did not need Mr. Schiff – in self-righteous, nauseating, hardly impartial hearings – repeating the mantra.  Repeating it did little good, since polls show more Americans now disfavor impeachment than before his hearings.

The bigger point:  Hypocrisy is thicker in DC than snow in The Rockies.  If any part of the US Government places itself “above the law,” it is Congress.  Let’s be specific. 

Despite “due process” guarantees in our Constitution, House Democrats cheerfully ran roughshod over the rules of civil procedure, legal precedents, House rules and “Robert’s Rules” during Intelligence and Judiciary Committee hearings.  To be clear:  These were lawyers; they knew what they were doing.   

Points of order, clarifications, and honest questions from Republicans were hammered down; witnesses answering questions posed by Republicans were cut off.  Material witnesses asked by Republicans, which could have ended impeachment, were disallowed. 

“Fair and impartial” requirements for grand jurors – as Mr. Schiff styled himself – were tossed out.  Instead, dark Star Chamber justice returned.  Guilt was found in private, witnesses selected that might support the finding, and a crass political case pressed.  Truly, these members feel one thing:  They are above the law.

Only, it gets worse.  The line – “no one is above the law” – is worth a closer look.  Here are facts Congress does not want you to know.  Congress regularly puts itself “above the law.”  Examples make a compelling case.

Recently, Americans learned their tax dollars were secretly used by Congress to settle sexual harassment claims against offending members.  What?  Yes, big settlements, all private.  Is that what Americans get to do – use someone else’s money to settle claims for their bad acts?  Did Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schiff not know about that?  Does that not qualify as “above the law?”

Then American tax dollars finance dozens of international junkets by members, luxury trips around the world – all conveniently returning at night, so no one sees the members’ largess on return.  Full cost is never revealed, but trips use high-cost military aircraft, decked out with tailored seating, food, drinks and communications. 

“Congressional Delegation” or “CODEL” trips hopscotch fancy hotels, enjoying well-stocked “control rooms,” adult beverages, a healthy “per diem” for each member – your tax dollars at work.  Some trips run north of $100,000.  Did someone not tell you about those?  Without public accounting, is that not “above the law?”

How about health care?  Congress not only has private medical care – from travel inoculations to flu shots – in the Capitol’s basement.  They get special deals.  As described in the Washington Examiner, September 2017, Congress enjoys “several types of special treatment unavailable to the public” on health care.  They are eligible for a small-business exchange, despite federal and DC laws prohibiting it.

More, they are “the only large employer in the country that can make tax-free contributions toward its employees’ exchange-plan premiums,” in conflict with federal laws.  And Congress is “the only group of federal workers who receive Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) premium contributions for non-FEHB coverage.”  Wouldn’t you say that’s placing oneself “above the law?”

Congress is “above the law” in even bigger ways.   Here are some.  Despite all the hoopla about that “whistleblower” – who apparently consulted with House Democrats – Congress exempts themselves from that same “Whistleblower Protection Act in 1989.”  The act aims to reduce “waste, mismanagement or lawbreaking” for taxpayers – only it does not apply to Congress. Isn’t that “above the law?”

Or consider the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), which empowers the US Labor Department to investigate health and safety violations – except in Congress.  OSHA can even subpoena records from anyone, except Congress.  Good luck in health and safety there.

Congress exempted itself from record keeping on workplace discrimination.  Accordingly, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws force private employers and executive branch to “retain personnel records,” but not Congress.

Or how about this one – if a private-sector employer “retaliates” against an employee for reporting “health or safety hazards,” Laborer can sue the employer, no cost to the employee.  Meantime, Congress forces an employee who wants to sue Congress – to foot the bill.  That discourages suits, don’t you think?  Clever – and above the law.  

Congress also exempts itself from posting “notices on worker rights,” federally required for the private sector.  And Congress need not comply with the No Fear Act, which trains executive branch employees on rights; Congress exempted itself.  

In one offensive exemption, Congress escapes compliance with the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA.  FOIA requests might be very helpful right now, but no.  Congress is not compelled to be transparent under FOIA; they put themselves outside FOIA’s reach.  The same is true for the Privacy Act; it bars release of private material by federal agencies, but not Congress.  That helps Congress leak with greater impunity.

The list is long – and deserves bright light, especially now.  The House is hardly being transparent.  The point is simple.  The next time Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff, Chairman Nadler and House Democrats wax on about transparency, using that “no one is above the law” line, someone should ask:  Does that include Congress? 

Bottom line on the law:  No institution in the US Government more unapologetically tramples “equality before the law” – than rule-busting, law-exempting, globetrotting congressional leaders.  Not all subscribe to this dodge, but those in control for years – like Speaker Nancy Pelosi – know the secrets.  It is time the American people did.  As this Speaker is fond of saying, “no one is above the law.”  That should include Congress.

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Read more articles by Robert B. Charles

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Thomas Hays

Our elected officials in congress and the senate are out of control.
They care more about power than the people that put them in Washington.
Term limits are long over due.
Term limits NOW !!!!!

Phillip

Every week I post this message on my Facebook news feed:

Remember that our elected officials at all levels of government are elected, not coronated royalty nor aristocratic heirs to their positions, no they are elected by our votes. Therefore, we the voters need to remind them constantly that they serve at the will of the voters and that they are our servants – as in public service – not our rulers. And those who begin to think of themselves as rulers with ruling prerogatives need to be voted out of office post haste.

Momma Z

How about “Hillary is not above the law”?

R shoemaker

Liberal congress members have long considered themselves above the law. This is going to come back on them like death from a thousand knife slashes. Already, a GOP congressman on Nader committee has used the “nobody is above the law” in insisting that Adam “Schiff for brains” be the first witness brought before the committee this week. Nader, of course will turn that down but if those gets to the Senate, Schiff, Pelosi and Nader will all be called – AND ROASTED🤬🤬🤬

Robert J. White

Great article maybe the President can help change the rules, “make American Congress and Senate responsible to the American PEOPLE”.

Oldclimber

What would you be writing about ? Of course the Demorats are above the law. The outright, blatant and arrogant illegal processes they have pushed on our governmental systems should be punishable by law. Shrillery got away with gross criminal conduct. The FBI acted like a crime syndicate. The Demorat congress is twisting and breaking every principle of justice that has long been established through centuries of common law development, with their “impeachment” hysteria. Are they using this to obfuscate their own culpability in further crimes and conflicts of interest ? YES, YES, and YES.

Bob Olden

When it comes to getting Congress to do what they were elected to do, we might as well throw piles of cash into the toilet. All of them beg for donations so they can win their campaigns and blather about how “indebted” they are to voters. But the corruption of the political system sucks them in and they can’t figure out how to escape it or reform it. That’s why we must keep Trump in there as long as possible! He’s the only one who is having success at shrinking the size of government and undoing some of the waste and inefficiency. Rolling back the corruption that lets Congress be “above the law” is a monumental task. May God grant that Trump’s administration have wisdom to make lasting change.

Lee Howell

they also use the term, we have to protect the Constitution,. That is the one that makes my stomach turn. Congress is the one that is endangering the Constitution every day. Our Congress, with anti-american, socialist communist, America bashing foreigners and downright nasty people ie “the squad”

Melvin Holmes

Thanks for keeping us more aware of the evils of the Democrats in Congress. Scary what they can and do to us citizens. Note that they are attorneys who cannot be trusted.

‘Nonymus

It’s long past time to make an example of these traitors! Treason is usually dealt with by hanging!

Jones

Thank you AMAC for an excellent piece. Every member of congress should have a thousand copies of this piece on his or her desk when they next show up for work. Not that they would take the time to read it but at least a thousand of their constituents would show their dismay.

Baja-Ron

All True! Why do you think they spend MILLIONS to get re-elected for a few hindered thousand a year job? Just the under the table (or not so under as with Biden & Biden), money is well worth the investment.

Why do you think they hate Trump so much? He’s poking a lot of holes in this tax sucking corruption balloon of theirs.

Doyle

If only we could drain the swamp in 2020

Paul W

As long as there are no congressional term limits, these abuses will continue. Unfortunately the only way to achieve term limits (Congress will NEVER vote for them) is and amendment to the Constitution, via a CoS. A CoS can be a Pandora’s Box. I’ve never been very big on them. It may be time to risk it. Without term limits we will never be a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Congress will see to that.

Terri

It all just makes me sick!! We struggle to work hard and pay our taxes for Congress to waste the money on themselves. May justice be swift.

Anerican

Reality! There are TWO sets of laws. In the common folk or peasant world a warrant for arrest doesn’t take long and always someone to do it. In Washington is quite different and all Americans know it. Its distasteful and a lie to be told the law is equal among all Americans. Representatives lie like dogs just to get into office. We all know it.

Hubert Martin

What can we do to change that? I am sick and tired of what the democratics are doing.

Paul DAscenz

Tell that to the Democrats! They think that they can break the law at Will and point there crooked fingers at Trump!!!!

Richard Fisher

Awesome reporting. Congress should never be above the law. They should be “setting the example”

Stephen Russell

Make= , Dems U suffer under same Laws 2 quit the BS & Games, the voters arent stupid, Lose 2020.
OK Nancy U suffer since Your NOT above the Law