News / USA

Calls for Bipartisanship in Washington Will Be Tested

The American flag flies at half-staff on the US Capitol in Washington to honor the slain aide, Gabe Zimmerman, of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. , Jan 9, 2011
The American flag flies at half-staff on the US Capitol in Washington to honor the slain aide, Gabe Zimmerman, of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. , Jan 9, 2011

Multimedia

Michael Bowman

After one of the most productive post-election legislative sessions in U.S. history, Americans are waiting to see whether the new Congress finds bipartisan common ground or reverts to the bickering and obstructionism that has hampered Washington’s ability to address pressing issues.

Partisan battle lines have been drawn over the new Republican House majority’s pledge to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform initiative. Other battles loom over federal spending, government debt, benefits for retirees, energy policy and immigration reform - to name but a few.

Amid Washington’s chronic political discord, legislation to address national priorities often is stymied. With neither party able to fully enact its agenda or willing to compromise on core principles, gridlock ensues. In the Senate, more procedural motions to block legislation have been mounted in the last two years than in the 19th and 20th centuries combined.

Political analyst Norman Ornstein said, "I’ve been in Washington for 41 years, immersed in politics of Congress, and I have never seen it this bad."

President Obama came to the White House promising to forge consensus and change Washington’s often-toxic political tone. But most of his legislative victories have come despite near-unanimous Republican opposition, accompanied by some of the most-heated rhetoric seen in decades.

With the arrival of a new Congress, there are fresh calls for change. Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said, "The world of the next generation will change too rapidly for political parties to focus too narrowly on the next election. And the 21st Century can be another American century, but only if we restore a larger sense of responsibility and replace the clattering cacophony of the perpetual [political] campaign with a wider discussion of what is best for our country."

Last year’s post-election congressional session provided a glimmer of hope. Democrats and Republicans found middle ground on contentious fiscal matters and enacted a tax bill that was palatable to both parties. Congress went on to pass many other bills, often with at least token Republican support.

"What we can't do is refight the battles of the past two years, that distract us from the hard work of moving our economy forward," said Obama.

But Republicans in the House of Representatives say they have a mandate from voters to halt or reverse the Obama agenda, including repealing the president’s signature health care reform law. Republican Representative Fred Upton of Michigan said, "We are going to be taking this bill apart piece by piece until it falls."

Not so fast, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "The Republicans have to understand that the health care bill is not going to be repealed."

It remains to be seen whether the near-fatal shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has a lasting impact on the nation’s political discourse - whether it calms tempers and rhetoric, allowing greater space for compromise. For now, the incident seems to have fostered a sense of unity among members of Congress.

House Speaker John Boehner said, "An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Such acts have no place in our society."

In the wake of the Arizona tragedy, the House postponed legislative business, including a repeal vote on health care.



You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs