United States – -(AmmoLand.com)- As the 117th Congress kicks off, there will be a lot of legislation introduced. In fact, we noted over 14,000 bills were introduced in the 116th Congress. This leads to one big question: How does Congress deal with so much legislation? Hard for every member of Congress to read every bill, then cast a vote… in fact, impossible. So, while that might seem like good news, it really is more of a mixed blessing.
Why? Because loyal Ammoland readers know of a number of good bills that should be passed into law, from deregulating certain rifles used for self-defense and competitions to improving protections for travelers to bringing firearms sales to the 21st Century, to list a few short-term improvements. Those are just a few examples from the last Congress. We may see more bills introduced this Congress, but how do you get 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators to study the legislation.
Answer: They don’t.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate established a number of committees each specializing in certain areas. Bills involving our Second Amendment rights will go to the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Each of those committees have a number of subcommittees.
So, when bills are introduced, they are sent to the committee for consideration. The committee then hands it off to a subcommittee. Most bills then just languish in subcommittee from their introduction to the end of the Congress, when they die, often to be reintroduced the next Congress.
The committees and subcommittees are run by chairmen. Chairmen come out of the majority party in either body. But who gets to be a chairman? Most of the time, seniority is the determining factor. Chairmen of committees often have spent decades in the House or Senate – and the subcommittee chairmen are also racking up seniority as well. If the chairman supports a given bill, it is more likely to get through the committee and get to the floor. If they oppose the bill… well, no luck.
This is one reason that the National Rifle Association often maintained their “friendly incumbent” policy. A committee chairman can kill bad bills outright, he can use his (or her) influence to mitigate the bills when they can’t be stopped outright, and they can also move good legislation forward, and even if that chairman is not the chair of the House or Senate judiciary committees, they will still have plenty of influence (see how John Dingell helped defeat the effort to kill gun shows in 1999).
The current Congress will be a harsh battleground for the next two years. Second Amendment supporters and loyal Ammoland readers can get started on the fight to restore pro-Second Amendment control of both chambers of Congress by supporting the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action and Political Victory Fund.
About Harold Hutchison
Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.