By Chris Brady
Having a pair of neighboring congressmen appear together in this area was a real treat for folks Monday in Lewisburg, and a near-capacity crowd showed the visit was much-appreciated.
Several interesting points were made by both freshmen lawmakers, Lou Barletta and Tom Marino, and we'll touch on a couple here.
Marino, our congressman representing the 10th District, discussed briefly a bill he introduced back in January, the One Subject at a Time Act, which is designed to make lawmakers more accountable. The bill would force lawmakers to vote on a bill based on its merit, not what is attached to it.
"The system has to be changed from within and that's why I introduced One Subject at a Time," said Marino. "Most of that legislation attached (to bills) wouldn't make it to the floor on its own."
He's absolutely right.
Problem is, lawmakers might not support legislation on its own without those well-known earmarks.
One such culprit could be the Susquehanna Valley Thruway, which Barletta admits is facing another setback with the transportation committee's reluctance to push a five-year plan. Without that five-year plan, bigger projects won't see the funding needed to get under way.
Without earmarks, fewer in the House are going to bite.
The good news for voters, though, should Marino's bill pass, is that they will be able to see who voted for what and quiz their lawmakers as to why they either didn't vote on a specific issue that came unattached, or why they voted no on a specific issue.
We also applaud Marino for speaking in favor of term limits.
"I'm a term limit guy and I think term limits would make a difference," he said.
Barletta spoke along those same lines when he said, "We're not there for a career, we're there for a cause."
Let's hope each is sincere and that more lawmakers opt for such reasoning for the betterment of our democracy. Entrenched lawmakers are beholden to their perceived power and the influence of lobbyists.
"We have to vote in Congress what is best for our district and our country," said Marino. "That's not how business operates (currently) in Washington."
There were moments from Monday's meeting that raised concerns as well, particularly the bashing of the media.
Barletta and Marino spent a number of minutes attacking the media -- much to the delight of many in the audience, several of whom even joined in -- before both noted near the end of their remarks that the local media is by and large fair to each of the congressmen.
One piece of misinformation was particularly troubling. A questioner asked why the lawmakers' messages weren't getting to the people, to which Marino said his office issues press releases, leaving the crowd to believe that print media is not getting the information to constituents.
Well, Marino is right. His office does issue press releases and this paper, the Standard Journal, prints every one. Yes, every one.
Those in the crowd wanting Fox News -- the only television outlet named -- to speak more to what the GOP House members are doing are barking up the wrong tree.
If you want news pertaining to your local lawmakers, you're going to have to seek it out in your local newspaper. Everything Marino releases finds its way to the pages of the Standard Journal.
And it always will, just as it does with Marino and did with Chris Carney before him. Just as it does with Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) as well.