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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid