Quid pro quo. You hear a lot about those three single-syllable words nowadays. You are being made to believe they are illegitimate, nasty and possibly illegal to use. They are from Latin and mean, simply, “something for something.” Quid pro quo was around before the Latin language was even invented.
Quid pro quo is, basically, how business was conducted before some fool came along and invented money. “I’ll trade you this for that.” It still goes on today, especially in the halls of Congress and beyond.
There probably has never been a law enacted by congress and approved by the President that was not the end product of quid pro quo. A ton of quid pro quo! A bill originates in the House of Representatives. There is always a lot of discussion (I hope) about the wording of a bill.
The first writing of a bill is almost never what each of the 435 members of the House wants. A whole lot of dealing (quid pro quo) goes on before all 435 learned members have a bill that is acceptable to the House as a whole.
The bill is then sent to the Senate and the Senate’s 100 Senators read it and, inevitably, changes are made through the give and take process (quid pro quo) of its members. If changes are made by the Senate, back to the house it goes for their approval again. Then, back to the Senate once more where the new language is scrutinized.
Hopefully, it is approved by then and goes on to the President for his signature. If he likes it, he signs it into law and lots of taxpayer pens are given to all involved. If the President doesn’t like it, he can veto it, and within ten days, excluding Sundays, send it back to the house with his objections attached. His veto can be overridden by both houses of Congress with a two-thirds vote.
Or, the President may take no action at all, and within the afore mentioned time-line, the bill becomes law. If Congress is in adjournment at that time, the bill does not become law. This is known as a pocket veto. Time for a lot more quid pro quo.
Back when our country was still in its infancy, this process of quid pro quo was called log-rolling. It was helping each other out. You roll my log for a ways and I’ll roll yours. That’s a much more colorful way of putting it.
Show me an example of the modern way quid pro quo is used, you ask? I’m so very glad you asked. A recent example took place in a country between people who have been in the news frequently as of late. The country is Ukraine, the year was 2016, and the participants were Vice-president Joe Biden and a member of the Ukrainian government.
At that time, the Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was on President Obama’s list of people he didn’t care for. Of course, to be fair to Obama, Shokin was on the hate lists of many countries at that time. No one thought Shokin was doing enough to combat corruption in Ukraine and they wanted him out of his job.
At that time, Ukraine was trying to get a billion dollars in aid (our quid) from the United States. Obama sent his Vice President, Joe Biden, to discuss this issue with Ukrainian officials. Biden reached deeply into his bag of diplomatic tricks and offered Ukraine a deal, a quid pro quo, if you will. All Ukraine had to do was to get rid of their prosecutor, Shokin (hereafter known as, quo), and they would get their billion-dollar loan.
So, the quid pro quo was accomplished. Biden was so happy about it that he exclaimed explicitly to reporters about it later. “I said, ‘You’re not getting the [$ billion]. I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b****. He got fired.”
So, boys and girls, there is a fine example of the way quid pro quo is supposed to work, at least, if you are a Democrat. It doesn’t seem to work so well if you are a Republican. Republicans offer the quid, but don’t get the quo. Hmm. If you offer quid but don’t get the quo, it’s not really quid pro quo, is it?
Bud Simpson writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.