Ted “The Big Pharma” Cruz proposing a bill about removing maximum pharmaceutical price restrictions. graphic by Conner Maggio

Special interests cut out the middle congressman

Due to a new quirk in the election fine print, special interest groups took the places of the representatives they voted for.

When the 116th Congress was sworn in earlier this month, it quickly became clear that this will be one of the most diverse classes of lawmakers that Washington D.C. has ever seen. It’s not, as most people would assume, because there are fewer old white men in the government than ever before, but because donors have decided to cut out the middle (congress)man and sit in the seats they paid for.

Based on the amount of money each special interest donated to campaigns and lobbying, they received a proportional number of seats. This led to the largest number of seats surprisingly going to groups of retired individuals like AARP, with investment bankers, real estate companies and educators trailing behind. The most individual groups to earn seats within an interest group went to medical spenders, with groups from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to the American Medical Association getting a spot in Congress.

Any new Congress has interesting quirks during the transition, but the ones this year were mind boggling. With the large increase in retirees in Congress, the schedule for lawmaking changed slightly. Out were the late night meetings and first bills at 11 a.m. Now, session begins at a bright and early 7 a.m., with a two hour lunch break so that they can finish at 4 p.m. for an early bird special.

Other significant changes with the new lawmakers included an increase in corner offices. Somehow the different office buildings have been refurbished so that every investment banker had a corner office. In addition, lawmakers have quickly become skilled at negotiating. The real estate legislators decided that conference rooms were property that they could buy and sell and decided that they would lease them out to the highest bidder. Many meetings are now held in offices and hallways as lawmakers look for rooms to hold meetings in.

With the significant increase in medical professionals in Congress, there is a movement to change some common terminology. Instead of calling additions to a bill amendments, the new trend is to call them “refills,” and the new buzzword for a bill itself is a “prescription.” Instead of a parliamentarian, there is now an “anesthesiologist” in both chambers.

One of the most interesting new additions to the new Congress is the teachers. In addition to requiring textbooks and briefing booklets at every session, they have taken to asking for answers during their floor speeches. When no answer is received, they decide to wait until someone finds the answer in one of the numerous textbooks now required. Unfortunately, teachers also decided quizzes were needed, and if someone doesn’t get a passing score, then they aren’t allowed to vote on the issue.

While the new class in Congress seems to be as quirky as can be, they already have had luck passing new legislation. Some highlights include a bill that removes all regulation from markets, another that doubled the amount of money received via Social Security and Medicare and a third bill to remove maximum pharmaceutical prices. As the senators and representatives are quick to pass legislation, more protesters than even have appeared on the steps of the Capitol Building, as people who aren’t affected by the new bills are pleading to have their interests met. These pleas fall on deaf ears while Congress continues to only benefit those with seats.

Post Author: Hannah Robbins