U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski departing Congress

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Both the president and the courts will continue to assume more and more power unless Congress gets its act together and remembers how to compromise.

That’s the departing message from longtime Chicago-area Congressman Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, a moderate in an increasingly left-leaning party who’s about to leave office after losing in the March Democratic primary to progressive Marie Newman.

In a speech to the U.S. House and in an interview, Lipinski said Congress increasingly is divided into warring ideologues on the left and right, creating a power vacuum that others fill. “I blame the Republicans more,” he said, but both play the game.

“James Madison, oftentimes called the father of Congress, believed that it was essential that the legislative branch make policy in a manner that well represented the vast and varied republic and best served the nation as a whole,” Lipinski said in his floor speech. 

“But today, the House doesn’t often work this way, especially when we deal with issues that are (of) the greatest importance,” he continued. “These bills, when they get considered, don’t get shaped through an open process in committee and on the floor. . . .Instead, the process runs through the speaker’s office, where the content of legislation is shaped to get enough votes—just out of the majority—to pass something that pleases various partisans.”

Lipinski said he wasn’t just referring to incumbent Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Californian with whom he’s had an at-best chilly relationship. But by effectively ceding power to their leaders—leaders who often can’t get along—Congress has pretty much invited presidents and courts to fill the void. “So what we have now is an imperial presidency and powerful courts with a Congress that largely sits gridlocked.”

In our phone conversation, Lipinski denied he was looking at the past with rose-colored classes, imagining a bipartisan bonhomie that never existed, or that he was just trying to explain away his differences with a Democratic party that increasingly disliked his views on abortion, gay rights and populist economic issues.

“It used to be different,” he said. “Even when I got here 15 years ago, there were less partisan issues. Things got done in committee. Everybody got something; the majority got more.”

If anyone can bring back at least a little of that spirit, he said, it’s President-elect Joe Biden, who has strutted his moderate stances and vowed to try to unite the country. But Lipinski, a member of the House bi-partisan Problem Solvers Caucus, stopped short of predicting success.

Meanwhile, Lipinski’s departure brings to the close an era in Chicago politics in which machine politicians controlled not only aldermanic slots but congressional seats. Lipinski got the job when his father, William O. Lipinski, decided to retire.

The younger Lipinski said he intends to write a book, do some part-time work for a human relations group he declined to name and perhaps a few other things. And he’ll be based not in Washington, but at home in Western Springs.

via Crain’s Chicago Business https://ift.tt/1mywUHL

December 10, 2020 at 03:04PM

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