Issue #1 for some Members of Congress – the name of the Washington Redskins


Massive national debt, drone warfare, an immoral tax code, a weak economy, and a thousand other things going wrong in America – and this is what some Members of Congress are worried about:

A group of House Democrats on Wednesday introduced a bill that would prevent the term “Redskins” from being trademarked, a move intended to put pressure on the Washington football club to change its name.

The Non-Disparagement of American Indians in Trademark Registrations Act of 2013 is co-sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and comes days after a federal trademark panel heard arguments over whether the team name was a slur. The panel could potentially overturn the team’s trademark, which would erode profits by allowing other businesses to sell apparel and goods featuring the Redskins name.

Now, this silliness is not limited to Democrats, but it does highlight the problem of prioritization in Congress. A similar example on the other side of the aisle is a bill backed by many Republicans – including my old boss on Capitol Hill, Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) – the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act of 2011. Yet this bill, despite its important-sounding name, would merely repeat existing law.

There were over 10,000 bills introduced in Congress in 2011 and 2012, during the 112th Congress, yet only 219 became law. Many of these were high-profile bills that aimed to do a whole host of activities, but had absolutely zero chance of passage through a split-party Washington.

What are the practical implications of the Redskins bill and others like it? I see three:

First, Members are proposing bills more for their own re-election/constituent public relations purposes than any actual intent to make bills law.

Second, because they have little chance of becoming law, many of these bills are mere distractions. Take the Redskins bill that was the launching pad for this post – it could be argued that by merely bringing attention to the bill, I am distracting from other, more important issues and bills. And, to be honest, it’s a legitimate argument.

Third, it shows just how silly Congress is. Playing political games both internally and with the media and constituents is more important than doing the job Congress is voted and paid to accomplish – keeping the federal government within the limits of the Constitution in order to make our union more perfect.