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Guest Editorial: Read the thing before you vote
The Grand Old Party pulled a Nancy Pelosi.
President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill Friday. Alaska's Sen. Dan Sullivan voted against it for the very good reason that existed in 2010 when former House Speaker Pelosi told colleagues who had a spending bill before them: ". We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it ."
They did then, and former President Obama signed it.
This time around the Republican-controlled Senate was given about 15 hours to read and understand the implications of the 2,000-plus-page bill. The House also had less than 24 hours to review it before its vote. Chamber leaders left no time for colleagues to do due diligence.
The Senate, along with the House, is following the migratory habit of some lemmings, which might lead to their political suicide.
Sullivan exercised his individual thinking, which is what Alaskans would expect; he wasn't elected to vote blindly.
President Trump signed the bill reluctantly. Privy to classified information regarding national security, he says he believed he had to increase military spending and prioritized that over other objectionable items in the bill.
The experience has prompted him to ask Congress for line-item veto authority. Not surprising, but unlikely, if even constitutional.
National security is paramount. Without it, there's no United States of America.
But Trump recognizes the legislation is a "spending" bill, and his supporters more often than not favored a reduction in spending. However, sometimes it takes money to make money, and that seems to be the view the president has taken.
Both Democrats and Republicans are being criticized for the bill, and not simply because they had no reasonable amount of time to review it.
Mainly, the bill doesn't address immigration. During the last spending bill showdown with Trump, Democrats sought a solution to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) problem. It was expected that they, the GOP, along with Trump, would devise a solution this month. It would go hand-in-hand with an effort to prevent illegal immigration and generally fix the immigration system that obviously isn't operating as it should, but Democrats really made no heartfelt effort toward that end.
While Trump received funds for border reinforcement, those are limited and not sufficient for what he desired in terms of a wall on the border with Mexico.
The immigration issue, which topped many Trump supporters' priority lists on Election Day, remains unresolved.
Whether a supporter or an opponent of the wall, leaving the Dreamers in limbo is unacceptable. Their parents entered this place illegally, bringing them along. Their parents raised them here, and it's all they know as home. Their lack of citizenship needs to be addressed, as does the prevention of an increase in the number of Dreamers and other immigration issues.
Of course the bill is chocked full of funds for all of the states. Alaska will benefit like the others, and the state won't give any of it back even if the majority of conservatives, and some liberals, here agree with reducing the federal deficit. Undoubtedly, it will be spent on some worthy causes and projects.
In days to come, the bill will be reviewed in the detail it should have been before the votes and the specific funding will be identified and discussed.
But, the fact remains, congressional members all should have been given ample opportunity to read and understand it before they had to vote on it. If it couldn't withstand the scrutiny, then it shouldn't have become law. The process lacked transparency.
Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, March 24