News / USA

    US Presidential Race Impacting Republican-led Senate

    FILE - Crew members prepare for the Fox Business News Republican Presidential Debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, Jan. 13, 2016.
    FILE - Crew members prepare for the Fox Business News Republican Presidential Debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, Jan. 13, 2016.
    Michael Bowman

    At campaign stops across America, ultra-conservative Republican Senator Ted Cruz bellows a rhetorical challenge to his competitors for the party's presidential nomination. "When have you stood against Washington? When have you taken on, not just Democrats, but leaders in our own party?" Cruz asked recently in New Hampshire.

    Cruz is not alone in slamming the ways of Washington.

    "It's a two-party problem," said Senator Rand Paul, another Republican presidential hopeful. "These are two parties getting together in an unholy alliance and spending us into oblivion.”

    Four current U.S. senators are running for president.

    Cruz, Paul and Marco Rubio are competing among Republicans. On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders is challenging former Secretary of State (and former senator) Hillary Clinton.

    FILE - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. arrives to announce the start of his presidential campaign, April 7, 2015, at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.
    FILE - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. arrives to announce the start of his presidential campaign, April 7, 2015, at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

    Sanders does not dispute his status as a Washington insider. In fact, he speaks often and with pride about his work on Senate committees dealing with veterans' affairs and the environment.

    By contrast, most Republican contenders cast themselves as outsiders fighting tooth and nail against the power of Washington, including Congress and the Senate in which they serve.

    That anti-Washington message stands in contrast with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's eagerness to show that Republicans can govern and deliver on legislative promises.

    FILE - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016.
    FILE - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016.

    "We want to continue to be the kind of Senate we were this year, focusing on things that could be achieved and turned into law," McConnell said at a year-end news conference in December.

    Campaigning, not voting

    "This is not going to be a productive year for Congress at all," said analyst Stan Collender at Qorvis MSLGROUP. "What you've got is Congress being used as a campaign tactic as part of the 2016 election."

    Presidential campaigning is already having an impact on Senate attendance. Rubio has been criticized for missing multiple votes in recent months, and Cruz skipped President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address.

    "The presidential candidates are not always going to want to tow the party line," said analyst John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center. "They're sometimes going to be out of the Senate and not there for votes."

    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a campaign stop in Rochester, New Hampshire, Dec. 21, 2015.
    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a campaign stop in Rochester, New Hampshire, Dec. 21, 2015.

    Given that Republicans have a slim, four-seat Senate majority, absences could affect vote tallies and whether legislation McConnell brings to the floor passes or fails.

    Complicating matters further for the majority leader is that Republicans are defending twice as many seats as Democrats this year.

    "Twenty-four of the 34 senators up for reelection this year are Republicans," Collender said. "About 10 of them are coming from states where they are vulnerable, where they are purple — they could be either red or blue, that is Democrat or Republican — or they are blue; they are Democratic states. So the elections are precarious."

    Congressional control

    McConnell's overriding goal of retaining a Republican majority could get tougher depending on which candidate gets the presidential nod.

    Much attention has been paid to Republican businessman Donald Trump, who leads in national polls of Republican voters, but whose divisive rhetoric could alienate Independents in critical swing states. Analysts say a similar dynamic would emerge if the nomination goes to ultra-conservative hardliner Cruz.

    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz walks through the "Spin Room" after the debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dec. 15, 2015. (Photo: E. Lee / VOA)
    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz walks through the "Spin Room" after the debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dec. 15, 2015. (Photo: E. Lee / VOA)

    "Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz don't get along very well, if at all," Collender said. "If Mitch McConnell does anything to encourage Ted Cruz voters to come out and vote, he may be hurting the other senators who are up for reelection.

    "I have talked to a number of Republican members of the House and Senate who say they are more interested in maintaining control of Congress than they are of winning the presidency," Collender added. "They would like to do both, but if it comes down to a choice between the two, retaining the majority in the House and Senate is more important to them."

    For now, McConnell is steering clear of the presidential fray.

    "We're going to do the job the American people elected us to do, and the presidential candidates will all slug it out," the majority leader said on ABC's This Week program.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora