News / USA

Experts Predict Partisan Clashes in New US Congress

The US Capitol reflects the setting sun and is seen in the reflecting pool on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov 2010 (file photo)
The US Capitol reflects the setting sun and is seen in the reflecting pool on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov 2010 (file photo)

Most political analysts agree the current U.S. Congress has been one of the most productive during the past century. Many experts fear, however, that the new Congress coming to Washington in January will be locked in partisan political battles, making it difficult for lawmakers to tackle the issues facing the country.

Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives in last month's midterm elections, which means Republican Representative John Boehner likely  will replace Nancy Pelosi as the new speaker of the House. Democrats will hold on to a slim majority in the Senate, meaning that there will be a divided government, with Democratic President Barack Obama, a Republican-led House and a Democratic led-Senate.

Political experts generally agree the outgoing Congress will go down in history as one of the most prolific in terms of passing landmark legislation, including sweeping health care reform and a major reform of financial institutions on Wall Street.

Analyst Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute agrees. "Perhaps ironically, the 111th Congress is going to go down as one of the most productive in terms of its legislative accomplishments, their sweep and scope and breadth, certainly in our lifetimes and probably within the 20th century. This Congress, vilified by Americans in a broad way, most of them believing that nothing has been done, some believing that whatever was done was bad, but it ranks at least with the 89th Congress of the 'Great Society' of [former President] Lyndon Johnson."

Ornstein said voters punished Democratic incumbents in November because of high unemployment and because many Americans are in financial trouble. Moderates from both parties were voted out of office. Also, a large number of candidates affiliated with the conservative and libertarian Tea Party movement, which advocate tax and spending cuts and limited government, were voted in. One of them is incoming Republican Representative Tim Scott of South Carolina, who said the incoming freshmen class of congressmen will be a force for change.

"I mean, there is no doubt that when we show up with a class of 83 people - one third of the Republican conference - we have an opportunity to have a significant impact fairly quickly," said Scott.

Ornstein said the fact that moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans have been replaced by more strident new leaders means that the political climate in Washington likely will be more polarized and hostile.

"I have been in Washington for 41 years and immersed in the politics of Congress, and I have never seen it this bad," he said. "We've had plenty of times when we have had enormous tension - with the impeachment of President Nixon, we had the impeachment of President Clinton. We had the Vietnam War; we had the Iran-Contra investigation - periods when the two parties had an enormously high level of tension. But this is simply worse."

Political analyst David Hawkings of Congressional Quarterly magazine also has low expectations for the new Congress. He said the Republican-led House will have enormous power to challenge President Barack Obama.

"What the party in power can do, unchallenged from the other side, is oversight and holding the administration's feet to the fire," he said. "They have subpoena power; they can conduct a lot of investigations; they can have a lot of hearings where they call President Obama's aides and Cabinet members to the Hill and poke at them and criticize them for the cameras.  And I think we will see a lot of that in the next two years, even if we do not see a lot of legislation enacted."

President Obama already has shown that he is willing to compromise with Republican lawmakers by agreeing to extend Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers, including the wealthiest Americans. But this angered fellow Democrats in the House, who said the president sacrificed core party principles. Analysts say the president likely will have to walk a fine line in trying to work with the new, divided Congress.



You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs