A little good news at Christmas is always welcome, right? Well, much of what we all hear from Washington – especially as it affects AMAC members – is often more of the same. Members in both chambers regularly seem tone deaf, preoccupied by trivia or infighting. They seem to miss the big issues, as well as opportunities to notch small victories for the average American.
So here, in a week of thin cheer, are some “small victories,” incremental advances that Congress did get done in this week before Christmas. These modest victories do not change the world, or end the much-ballyhooed “partial government shutdown” – which will have no effect on federal benefits. But they do offer hope and insight into positive things Congress does, which often go unnoticed.
A few top shelf achievements for the week include, by way of example, amendments to make possible an effective Congenital Heart Failure research bill, which expands research into this health area, opening doors for non-profit research grants. Likewise, the Traumatic Brain Injury Program Reauthorization Act of 2018 passed the US House, overwhelmingly.
Along these same lines, the US Senate passed the Bold Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, which marks new territory – and offers new hope. The law, originally sponsored by Susan Collins (R-Me), facilitates cooperative agreements for national and regional “centers of excellence” in public health to help with Alzheimer’s disease, expands state programs that promote “cognitive functioning” and “address cognitive impairment and unique aspects of Alzheimer’s disease,” specifically helps “caregivers,” and then elevates research, analysis and reporting to allow broader information sharing.
No, that bill from Senator Collins is not a panacea, but it is a solid step forward. And in a year when she was excoriated for her vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, she was also busy in a thousand other ways – and this was one.
In a similar vein, the Republican-led Congress just wrapped up work on a law that will reinforce state offices of rural health, specifically, revising the grant program for state offices of rural health to enable more grants.
Last week, the Republican Congress also conducted housekeeping on bills that helped America by strengthening technology security, improving water infrastructure, enhancing coastal heritage trails, modernizing recreational fisheries, and expanding the reach, definition and access to resources by museums and libraries.
So here is the point. The national media misses these good news stories, every single week. They report bad news, members at loggerheads, failures of big government and what will give readers a shock, a jolt that keeps them reading or watching.
But here is another secret: For all the things that go wrong, a few go right too. And quite a few have gone right in the tenure of this Republican Congress, over the past two years. We will see what the New Year brings, but for now, lift a glass and celebrate blessings of this season – knowing that, good things do occur, even when we doubt. Merry Christmas!