As a freshman congressman elected in 2010 with tea party support, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, clashed with other Republicans, with the president and with Democrats.
He delighted a narrow base with inflammatory rhetoric and debt-ceiling brinkmanship.
The 112th Congress had the lowest favorability rating in history, in large part because of the no-compromise antics of Brooks and his tea-party colleagues.
The House passed hundreds of bills, but few laws.
It did not govern.
Brooks and his more extreme colleagues generated bills that were little more than press releases reaffirming their anti-establishment credentials.
In 2012, Brooks won by a large margin against a little-known Democrat.
Some in his district hoped his job security would translate into a sincere attempt to improve government. Instead of waging symbolic battles, there was a hope that he would work with lawmakers to improve his district while seeking structural reforms to reduce federal debt.
With his solid committee assignments, an effort to work with government instead of against it would go a long way.
Early signs, though, are not encouraging.
Brooks alienated many of his colleagues by voting against a four-sentence bill to temporarily increase the borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program by $9.7 billion to help in the recovery from the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy.
The bill passed despite Brooks’ vote. Elected officials from New York and New Jersey are understandably irate at Brooks, as they well remember the massive federal funding that helped Alabama through Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 tornadoes. New York newspapers ridiculed Brooks for his past promises to help Alabama residents pursue federal disaster funding.
In his first days as a member of the 113th Congress, Brooks has co-sponsored two bills. One would abolish the Internal Revenue Service and repeal the income tax. Another would declare — in contravention of the 14th Amendment — that U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants are not citizens. The mere filing of the bill will further alienate Latino citizens from the GOP.
Neither bill, of course, has any chance of becoming law.
They will excite some constituents, but mainly annoy the legislators with whom Brooks must work.
Brooks’ district, which includes Madison, Morgan and Limestone counties, depends heavily on federal funding. It needs a congressman who can work with other Republicans, with the Senate and with the administration.
Brooks’ predecessors understood the need for compromise.
Brooks, busy tilting at windmills, apparently does not.
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