Parliament of Hypocrites

Those not deep in the weeds of policy and process may be unaware of this, but let this post bring your unawareness to an end. Just because Congress legislates rules that the rest of us have to live by does not mean that Congress itself has to live by those rules.

As Theodoric (what a great name!) Meyer details:

  • Legislative branch whistleblowers do not get the same legal protections that other whistleblowers get.

  • OSHA has no presence in Congress.
  • Congress is exempt from rules that require private sector workplaces to keep personnel records.
  • Congressional employees who file reports regarding health and safety hazards are legally vulnerable to retaliation in ways that private sector employees are not.
  • Workers’ rights notices do not have to be posted in congressional workplaces (like lunchrooms).
  • Congress does not have to administer anti-discrimination or anti-retaliation training to its employers.
  • Congress is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

To be sure, there are some laws that apply to Congress. But before you exclaim “thank God!”, read this:

In addition to sparing itself from complying with measures it has made mandatory for others, Congress is violating some of the laws that do apply to it, according to a recent report from the Office of Compliance. (The pint-sized agency, created by Congress in 1995, is responsible for enforcing a number of workplace-rights laws in the legislative branch.) The sidewalks surrounding the three House office buildings, the report noted, don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Neither do the restrooms in the House and Senate office buildings and the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building.

And of course, one can’t help but wonder how many similar examples of hypocrisy one finds in your run-of-the-mill state legislatures, city councils, and governmental bureaucracies.

  1. Sandy

    You’ve convinced me.  Term limits be damned.  We need a Constitutional amendment requiring that all three branches abide by the laws they make for everyone else. 

  2. Dave_L

    Constitutional Amendment: “Congress shall pass no law which does not apply fully and equally to all members, nor which exempts any members either in full or in part.”How’s that?

  3. Dave_L

    Here’s another: “No law shall exceed 200 words in length, in accordance with Ricochet standards.” That’ll keep out the special interests.

  4. drlorentz

    Parliament of Hypocrites may be apt to make your point, but P.J. O’Rourke was closer to the mark when he titled his book Parliament of Whores. As Mr O’Rourke observed,

    When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

    Richard Fulmer made the related point that an organization of individuals that is dedicated to robbing from Peter to pay Paul devolves into a den of thieves.

    As odious as hypocrisy is, it pales in comparison to the direct damage, both economic and moral, done by our national legislature.

  5. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    “Congress shall pass no law which does not apply in full to Congress or any branch or department of the federal government, or which contains any exemptions for Congress or any branch or department of the federal government that is not available to non-governmental entities and actors.”

    Dave_L: Constitutional Amendment: “Congress shall pass no law which does not apply fully and equally to all members, nor which exempts any members either in full or in part.”How’s that? · 16 minutes ago

  6. drlorentz
    Sandy: …all three branches abide by the laws they make for everyone else. 

    This was the first of eight reforms promised in the 1994 Contract with America, at least as it applies to the legislative branch. Almost 20 years later, I’m still waiting for this one to be adopted. What do you think the chances are ?

  7. Robert E. Lee

    I knew of this and I’ve shouted it from the rooftops.  But my voice is small, not many hear it and those who do are apt to discount it.  Why are the giants among us not taking up our banner?

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