Congressman David Cicilline has decided to resign from the United States Congress less than three months into his 24-month term, albeit the resignation will be effective on June 1, 2023. He says his …
Congressman David Cicilline has decided to resign from the United States Congress less than three months into his 24-month term, albeit the resignation will be effective on June 1, 2023. He says his office will continue to process constituent requests for service, but just how effective and timely those inquiries will be handled remains unknown. They may very well be put to the back of the line, since the federal agencies to which they would be directed have little motivation to respond to a lame duck office-holder who cannot influence their budget or policy.
Further, his staff may be interviewing for other jobs during the time leading up to the projected election and swearing-in of a replacement in October 2023.
I certainly wish the Congressman every success in his new job. I wish, however, that he had stayed put and fulfilled his commitment to the electorate who just gave him another term. In that regard I am at odds with some of my colleagues who write columns, including at the Boston Globe.
James Pindell of the Boston Globe has given his imprimatur to the departure by saying that Members of Congress are people, too. He argues that just like anyone who feels his current job isn’t working, or gets passed over for a promotion, or receives an offer for a lot more money elsewhere, an elected official should be able to depart for greener pastures.
He also argues that others have done the same. He noted that Mr. Cicilline was defeated in his bid to become number four in ranking in the Democratic Party, so since he is an ambitious guy, there isn’t a lot for him to do. He also gets to avoid the grind of going to Washington.
I think these arguments are shallow. If Joe or Jane Blow wants to leave a job, it doesn’t cost taxpayers a mint. Seven figures will be expended for a special election and for mail ballots to be sent to/from the military and others who qualify. The simple fact is that for Mr. Cicilline to make more money, he is costing taxpayers more money. That hardly seems right.
Regular folks can leave jobs if slighted by being overlooked for a promotion, but that doesn’t come at the financial cost of others. In running for reelection, the Congressman didn’t know that he’d be in a minority or even if he would get a promotion to a political insider position, so he assumed the risk. I accept his disappointment, but not his departure.
The columnist of The Globe also cites that 9 out of 435 members of Congress also resigned from 2021-2023. Two wrongs don’t make a right. He also loses his argument when he argues that John Kerry left the Senate to become President Obama’s Secretary of State. Kerry remained in public service.
As for the grind, it goes with the job. That argument is like the car mechanic who grouses about getting oil on his hands. To put up with the “grind”, a Congressperson gets $174,000 a year, full medical coverage, and a Cicilline pension / related retirement benefits that kick in at age 62 of approximately $75,000 per annum.
So, Godspeed David Cicilline. I just wish that you had finished your job.
Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.