GOP wrong for holding Congress hostage

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that Republicans (GOP) in Congress would block and slow down every piece of legislation that comes before them until the party’s demands are met.

Those demands include requiring Congress to address the federal government’s budget allocation, known as the “continuing resolution,” and extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2 percent of income earners.

Despite how important these issues are to Republican leaders in Washington, it’s dangerously irresponsible to hold Congress and the U.S. legislative process hostage until their selfish political aims are achieved.

There’s powerful legislation that will now be in jeopardy.

American national security is threatened if they reject the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), a cooperative effort with Russia to reduce the size of both nations’ nuclear stockpiles.

A repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the passing of the DREAM Act, which would offer underage illegal aliens a path to citizenship through education or military service and a food safety bill to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration would all be put on hold or rejected.

Perhaps most disturbing is the possibility that Republicans will not act to extend soon-to-expire federal unemployment benefits. If they do expire, the nearly 10 million citizens who receive unemployment benefits would be cut off after the states’ allowed 26 weeks instead of the current maximum of 99 weeks.

Millions of families devastated by unemployment would find themselves thrust into economic chaos overnight as they struggle to meet basic needs.

Though funds from the federal budget must be divided up, doing so must not come with a total rejection of other equally important legislative acts. However, this aspect of the GOP’s demands is the least offensive when considering the tax cut demand.

The Bush-era tax cuts were passed in 2001 and 2003. By 2001, the federal government had a surplus of $236 billion. Today, there is a deficit of $1.3 trillion.

It’s clear the temporary tax cuts have not helped the economy grow, and allowing the tax rate for the top 2 percent to return to normal levels would generate $678 billion over the next 10 years – money that could certainly help balance the federal budget and extend unemployment benefits.

It’s certain that these Republicans were not voted into office solely by the top 2 percent of income earners.

To the contrary, it’s likely most of their votes came from the 98 percent of Americans who are being sold out so the GOP can act in the best interest of only their most affluent supporters.

Refusing to consider legislation outside of party aims is inexcusable and run counter to Americans’ welfare.