Here’s this gadfly’s prescription for bipartisan compromise
Take the deal, with conditions.
1) Bipartisan oversight of the bidding process, including bipartisan vetting of bidders and whatever the usual public notice for comment window, double it (if zero days currently, then 90). Given some of the sketchy circumstances surrounding the nuts and bolts of making public works happen, and given the contentious nature of the proposed project, this matter seems exceptional enough to warrant such different treatment. Surely the same Congress that authorized other mechanisms can override those mechanisms in specific instances with its legislative powers.
2) Establish an ad hoc committee for 1) above, funded, bipartisan, and they field the public comments and answer to the voters in televised public hearings on this contentious issue, not whoever ordinarily would, if anyone.
3) A 100% managed/100% sourced/100% made in USA provision (not merely assembled in). From the iron mining to the foundry to fabrication, using no foreign workers, with or without the appropriate papers. It’s supposed to be to protect American jobs, right? Hold the GOP to that and make it difficult for them to duck. No foreign firms, no foreign contractors, no foreign corporations, no foreign workers.
4) If no suitable American concern exists, subsidize the start-up of one, or subsidize the American acquisition of an already functioning foreign concern. A Dem/GOP-agreed upon fat cat gets an unexpected payday. Business as usual, but transparently. It’s compromise.
4) A sunset clause on the funding authorization, in the event no suitable bid is received prior to the next Congress being sworn in. To be followed by an audit of all monies disbursed and received back by the Treasury in the event the sunset clause is triggered. That just fiscally prudent, right?
5) This funding authorization not to be protected by any continuing resolution that is passed during a shutdown. It would happen anyway, but force the opposition to necessarily repeal this provision.
6) A clawback provision for 90% of the funds in the event of any breach of agreement or good faith with a provision for an audit of the remaining 10%, any of which remaining proceeds that have not yet been disbursed to be included in the clawback. Why would the GOP want to wiggle out of a good faith agreement before they have a chance to break it?
7) If private/publicly-traded American sources of the necessary raw materials are unavailable, open up only such much public land as is necessary to meet the design specifications for two years’ anticipated completion. The public land must risk the least damage from such development compared to other available public lands, as determined by environmental impact studies overseen by the ad hoc committee in 2) above. Further, every natural born and naturalized US citizen of majority age with a valid SSN or EIN is to receive a dividend on the profits realized from the use of these public lands, modeled on Alaska’s model for oil dividends. If they don’t like this compromise on public lands, the GOP would certainly have to explain why Americans shouldn’t get such dividends for the use of their land.
8) All federal employees and contractors who can document that they even temporarily lost pay during and because of the shutdown get 100% back pay plus 10% for pain and suffering, no questions asked, because they deserve it after being used as pawns. They’ll be the ones to decide who gets the blames. Expect to see that in the voting booths in 2020.
Why my idea? Well, it’s bipartisan, and it’s compromise. It’s got a safety net. And the long-term hope is that there would eventually be a Dem Senate that will work with a future Dem House to pass a spending bill that repeals any provision for funding until such time as a vote can be taken on whether it should be built at all. Meanwhile, even if such a deal didn’t fly, the GOP would have some ‘splainin’ to do, and the Dems get talking points out the wazoo.
Is this a good idea? A bad one? What do you propose? If you speak up now, you have a greater than zero chance of being heard. If you don’t? What’s less than greater than zero?
I wish our elected leaders (on both sides) would come up with this kind of reasoned solution. There is waaaaay too much playing to the base (again, on both sides) and not enough demonstration that anyone is listening to anything that anyone is saying. Pelosi and Shumer should use reasoning and logic (because there’s zero of that in the White House) to hold Trump’s and McConnell’s feet to the fire, instead of introducing legislation doomed to fail and then throwing up their hands and saying “See?” I am writing my congressman today to express this concern.
There’s way too much false equivalence in this. I hate Pelosi and Schumer, but they have precisely two choices right now: hold out and do what they’re doing or waste another $5B. Trump is a toddler having a tantrum and McConnell is running interference for him. Hold feet to fire? How? They’re waging a PR battle and crafting legislation. What else do you want them to do?
I would add to this a citizen suit provision modeled on the Clean Air Act to enforce the 100% managed/100% sourced/100% made in USA provision.
Thank you for the supporting comments. One lesson I hope would come of this exercise is that ideas, good, bad, indifferent, aren’t the sole province of our leaders. The ideas should emanate from us and be amplified at the top. I can’t recall a time in my life when that has actually been the case, except when it was the exception at the top picking up on the spirit of things back home. As for me, I’m just an under-educated, under-achieving working class guy. Some days I’m the smartest person in the room. Most days, I’m content to sit back, listen to the ones who are, and chime in when I can. I just wish our elected leaders would engage in something like this post (better, countless posts by others everywhere) and maybe be shamed into real leadership.