Illumine Their Pathway
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
July 29, 2

Center-stage in Washington is the ongoing debate over raising America’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling while also finding substantial ways to reduce the nation’s deficit (which NRB continues to insist should not include spectrum policies that would hamstring television broadcasting). U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner identified August 2nd as the deadline after which the federal government would face default on financial obligations if it was not granted further borrowing authority by Congress. With that deadline looming early next week, the partisan rhetoric in the Capitol is at fever pitch.

In the midst of the intensity, I was grateful when I heard these words spoken on the Senate Floor:

As our lawmakers face difficulty that tests their powers to the limit, shield them from cynicism and faintheartedness. May they not become weary in doing Your will, knowing that they will reap Your bountiful harvest if they faint not. Lord, as our Nation faces the potentially catastrophic, inspire our lawmakers to seek Your counsel which will stand forever. Illumine their pathway that they may not fail. We pray in Your merciful Name. Amen.

This prayer was offered up to our Lord at the beginning of Wednesday’s Senate session by Senate Chaplain Barry Black, a retired Rear Admiral and former Chief of Chaplains in the United States Navy. Chaplain Black, who became Senate Chaplain in 2003, and his House counterpart, The Reverend Patrick Conroy, are entrusted with offices that have carried on since the foundation of the American Republic. In 1789, the year the U.S. Constitution took effect, Reverend William Linn and the Right Reverend Samuel Provost were elected chaplains of the House and Senate respectively. These chaplains adopted the model of the earlier Continental Congresses by opening every day with an invocation. For over two hundred years that practice has continued each day of Congressional session. 

The chaplains are very valuable to both Chambers of Congress. In addition to beginning each legislative day in reverence to the One who created us and endowed us with unalienable rights, these chaplains are entrusted with offering counseling and spiritual care to those Members of Congress, their families, and their staffs who seek it. In the early days, the chaplains held regular Sunday services in the House Chamber for residents of Washington, D.C. Today, the chaplains facilitate small group gatherings and serve as a resource to Senate and House Members on spiritual and moral questions.

This heated debt ceiling debate is not the first crisis Washington has faced, nor will it be the last. In the chessboard and tug-of-war that is Washington politics, lawmakers often find themselves in such situations. However, it is sometimes easy to forget that those involved in these very tense situations are human beings. Thankfully, while often overlooked, influences of reason, hope, and peace are present in the Capitol. In particular, the offices of the Senate and House Chaplains work to remind our legislators that there is One far greater than they who stands ready to illumine their pathway.

[Congressional Record, July 27, 2011; Office of the Senate Chaplain,; Opening Prayer,]

Washington Whispers
Senators Ask for Cost-Benefit Analysis
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations


This week, eleven Republican Senators with seats on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee jointly sent a letter to Federal Communications Committee (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski requesting a cost-benefit analysis of the FCC “Open Internet” order before it goes into effect. They referenced an Executive Order issued by President Obama earlier this month calling on independent agencies like the FCC to perform such quantitative and qualitative analyses in order to make federal regulations more effective and less burdensome. Led by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), these Senators stated:

…we concur that each executive and independent agency should propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify the costs.  Furthermore, we believe that had these Executive Orders been implemented before net neutrality rules were approved by a vote of 3-2 by the FCC on December 21, 2010, the Commission would have made a more informed decision.

Among the signers of this letter were Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee; Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), Ranking Member of the Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee; and Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), John Thune (R-SD), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The FCC’s 3-2 partisan vote to pass net neutrality rules allowed the federal government to regulate the Internet for the first time in history. NRB is wary of these rules as it desires Christian content to be accessible on the Internet unfettered by any government or corporate religious discrimination. 

[“Heller Demands Answers from FCC on Net Neutrality,”; Press Release, “Executive Order – Regulation and Independent Regulatory Agencies,” July 11, 2011,]

The Inside Story: Key Government Issues for Christian Communicators
Washington Whispers
>> Senators Ask for Cost-Benefit Analysis
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