House Republicans Fail To Keep Us Safe

Democratic frustration with the Republican's inability to keep our country safe is not a political talking point -- it is about real policy that affects real people. The number one job of our country's most representative elected body is to legislate in order to keep the American people safe. And in this regard, on both domestic and foreign policy, House Republicans have failed miserably.

When I ran for Congress after resigning from the State Department as the senior official in charge of State's relations with the House of Representatives, I knew that I was seeking to serve in a body full of words, not deeds. But change needed to come to that body, because when the House doesn't function, America's government doesn't function.

We have seen this time and again, from the failed government shutdown in 2013 that cost our country billions to the Houses' inability to grapple with climate change that is destroying our planet. But most frighteningly, the Houses' inability to deal with terrorism is putting our security at risk, and doing so like never before. Orlando has sadly once again shown us that. Enough is enough.

Nearly 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every year. No other country at peace with itself has this level of internal violence. Of course, countries in the throes of war and chaos like Syria, El Salvador, and Iraq share these levels of killings, but such company should not give us comfort.

At the same time, we're fighting terrorist organizations overseas in order to destroy them in their home bases, so that they can't harm us here. But you wouldn't know if from the Houses' behavior. It's been nearly a year and a half since President Obama asked Congress to authorize military action against the Islamic State in an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) request. The Houses' failure to even bring this up for a vote shows how unserious Republicans are about defeating the Islamic State and protecting us from terrorists.

The failure of the House to act on guns and terrorism is putting our lives in danger.

As a candidate, I often spoke on the campaign trail about gun violence and terrorism. I spoke about how as a father of three young girls, every night I went to bed worried about whether my children would be safe from violence at their school, when visiting a public shopping mall, or just plain living their lives. I was not alone in that fear. But as a Democrat, I knew that we had little power to stand up to the NRA legislatively in the House.

And as a State Department official, I spent many days preparing for briefings, meetings, and hearings on the question of how to defeat the Islamic State. Yet when we made the official AUMF request to both create parameters for our military operations and to demonstrate that Americans stood united against the Islamic State, the House took no action once again.

It's crucial to point out that Speaker Paul Ryan has total control over which legislation comes up for a vote. And it's abundantly clear that Ryan is failing to allow for a vote to tighten up our nation's gun laws so that suspected terrorists can't buy guns and that background checks are more effective -- positions supported by 90% of Americans. It's also clear that he's also failing to do anything about the fight against terrorists overseas.

House Republicans -- just like Donald Trump -- are obsessed with labelling Democrats as soft on terrorism because President Obama doesn't say the magic words "Islamic Terrorism." But their behavior in actually doing anything about the fight against the Islamic State both at home and abroad is nonexistent.

So when it comes to voting to protect Americans from gun violence, to keep us safe from terrorists, and to stand united in the fight against the Islamic State, House Republicans -- the party of know-nothing Donald Trump, who promises to do more of the same -- are an abysmal failure.

Our country can't afford any more do-nothing Congresses and know-nothing Presidents on the question of terrorism. Too much is at stake.

What saddens me most about this episode, where House Democrats had to result in physical protest on the House floor to have their voices heard, is that Paul Ryan has young children just like me. He and I are close in age. I wonder if he worries about their safety at night too, just like I do. And I wonder if he understands how little both he and his House Republican colleagues are doing to protect them.

Joel Rubin is a former Congressional Candidate in Maryland's 8th Congressional District, as well as the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for House of Representatives Affairs.