The Polish American Community is disappointed with the vote, which took place, in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018, which voted up SENATE RESOLUTION 447- THE JUST ACT of 2017.
The Polish American Congress (PAC), since December 2017, has been asking Polish Americans across the country to contact their Members of the House of Representatives to urge them to vote against H.R. 1226, the House of Representatives version of SENATE RESOLUTION 447, which was voted up by the voice vote and without opposition by the Senate on December 12, 2017.
As President of the Polish American Congress, I sent a letter to Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in January 2018. My letter was published on the PAC website and accepted as a Statement of Record by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
On Friday, April 17, 2018, late in the afternoon, when few were paying attention, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan unexpectedly announced that there would be a vote on the JUST Act of 2017 in the form the Senate voted up on December 12, 2017, S. Res. 447. This surprise vote was scheduled for Tuesday, April 24th at 6:30 P.M., and subsequently was moved to an earlier time on that day.
As Speaker, Congressman Paul Ryan was within his rights to Suspend the Rules of the House of Representatives and this made it very easy to enact the JUST Act of 2017 by calling for a 2/3 majority voice vote in the House of Representatives.
According to the Parliamentarian of the House of Representatives, a quorum to hold a 2/3 vote requires only three Members of the House of Representatives to be present. Approximately 40 Members were present when the Speaker of the House called for a voice vote on the JUST Act of 2017. Not one of them asked for a roll call vote. Therefore, the Polish American Congress can not identify by name the opponents of our Fatherland and vote against them in this year’s Congressional Elections.
From coast to coast, Presidents of Polish American Congress Divisions and National Directors encouraged their members to telephone their Representatives in the House to stop the JUST ACT of 2017, which is most unjust to Poland. Officers of the Polish American Congress wrote many letters appealing to their Representatives to support fair play for Poland and not enact the JUST Act of 2017.
For example, I wrote letters to Members of Illinois’ Congressional Delegation and personally telephoned their offices. The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, received my letter, which let him know that he was wrong when he stated that: The JUST Act is not controversial, and therefore should be voted upon by voice vote and not roll call vote in the form in which it was enacted by the Senate, S. Res. 447. The JUST Act of 2017 undoubtedly is most unfair to Poland.
In principle the rule of law ensures fairness to all people and countries. No one according to this standard, is above or outside the reach of the law. Unfortunately, this principle of fair play was undermined this past week when the Speaker of the House Suspended the Rules in order to push the JUST Act through the House of Representatives. This shows how adhering to the Letter of the Rules undermines the spirit of democracy.
How can our system allow approximately 40 out of a total of 435 Members of the House of Representatives to pass legislation that affects our country’s relations with our loyal NATO ally Poland? Is it fair that only 40 Members of the House of Representatives can subject our ancestral country Poland to such unfair treatment?
There are groups and corporations that have achieved enormous power in this country and increased their influence to an all-time high. Even a well-funded lobby, could not have stopped the enactment of the JUST Act of 2017, because the Speaker of the House Suspended the Rules and called for a voice vote.
Members of the Polish American Congress are telephoning the Comments Line of the White House to ask the President of the United States to veto the JUST Act of 2017, because it is most unjust to Poland. Our activists who are telephoning the White House Comments Line are reminding President Trump that Polish Americans strongly supported his candidacy and expect him to keep the promises he made to Poland and to Polish Americans during the campaign. Callers also are praising President Trump for his very pro-Poland speech of July 6, 2017 in Warsaw at the opening of the Three Seas Conference. How can President Trump sign the JUST Act of 2017 after showing his understanding of Polish history in his Warsaw speech last July?
Frank J. Spula
Polish American Congress