José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: José López Zamorano

It is common to refer to the Senate of modern democracies as an “Elephant Cemetery”, a metaphor for the mythical place of Africa that symbolizes the last dwelling place of long-lived pachyderms. The allusion is pertinent because, in more than one country, the Senate has become the Cemetery where many of the major law initiatives are buried.

In the case of the United States, the Founding Fathers were inspired by French thought and conceived of the Senate as an oracle of enlightenment with the venerable mission of prevailing over the passions of the people, safeguarding the rights of the individual states of the Union, including the smallest or most depopulated, but also protect citizens from the actions of their rulers.

Today the United States is a reflection of the weights and counterweights devised by the Founding Fathers. A party rules the executive, the legislature is shared, and the highest judicial body, the Supreme Court of Justice, has shown that it is unpredictable even with a conservative bent.

For many, the current Senate, under Republican control, has wavered in its responsibility to be a counterweight to the executive, since the leader of that party’s senators has refused to vote on those bills that do not have the presidential blessing.

All of this comes up because the House of Representatives, under the control of Democrats, passed a new $ 3 billion bill on Friday to help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and help ignite the engines of the economy.

Republicans forced a vote on one of the conservatives’ most controversial clauses, the disbursement of a $ 1,200 check for families of undocumented immigrants, who were sidelined from previous pandemic economic relief efforts.

At the end of the vote, supporters of supporting the immigrant community won, and the overall initiative was approved by 208 votes in favor and 199 against. Now the White House threatens to veto it. Some Republican senators say they are in no rush to vote now and others have simply issued the bill a death certificate from the start.

Even if we accept that Democrats may have included supporting migrants as a nod to their supporters or a negotiating letter with Republicans who want more tax relief for businesses, it would be elemental justice to support those in times of real emergency for those they collectively pay about $ 12 billion annually in taxes, according to independent estimates.

Hopefully the Senate will remove the nickname from the elephant cemetery and be moved to act in favor of those who in this moment of crisis are considered “essential workers” to serve the rest of society, and who receive the most elementary reciprocity and justice in moments that need it most.

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