From the Senate delay case files
By Dylan Matthews
The Senate's inability to get anything done has been highlighted so often with big, visible fights -- climate change, nominations, unemployment insurance, etc. -- that it's easy to forget that plenty of other issues are getting neglected along the way. I spent much of the day yesterday at the Campus Progress National Conference, and the best speech by far was from Kevin Sanchez, a former gang member who spoke in favor of the Youth Promise Act, which provides funding for juvenile delinquency intervention and prevention programs in inner cities. This is the sort of bill that Congress should be able to get passed easily. It focuses on evaluating programs for effectiveness and scaling up existing programs that have worked, including ones that have shown dramatic reductions in gang membership and related violence; you can read a PDF summary from the Children's Defense Fund, which is a big backer, here. It has 234 co-sponsors in the House, enough to pass on the floor, and with Olympia Snowe co-sponsoring the Senate version, passage should be possible if Senate Democrats keep it together and especially if Mitch McConnell decides it would be unseemly to filibuster a bill combating youth violence. Some conservatives are opposed, but the best the Heritage Foundation could offer was a bit of hand-wringing verging on self-parody about how the act goes against the spirit of federalism.
But it doesn't appear likely the bill will come to a vote in either chamber this session. I'm hoping activists fighting for it will prove me wrong on that, but with jobs legislation, climate change, the Disclose Act and immigration reform all ahead of it on the docket, it's hard to see how either chamber has time. They would, if the Senate operated at a pace befitting a modern legislature, but it doesn't, and so inner cities will likely go another few years without funding to keep kids out of gangs. Rhetoric about the Senate's role as a cooling saucer gets a lot less romantic when you consider what's being cooled.
-- Dylan Matthews is a student at Harvard and a researcher at The Washington Post.
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