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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs