News / USA

US Congress Returns After Election Shake-Up

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 15 Nov 2010
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 15 Nov 2010

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. lawmakers returned to work on Monday, after midterm elections that shook the political landscape in favor of Republicans. Members of Congress have a lot of unfinished business to take care of in the remaining weeks of this year, including funding the federal government so it can continue operating, and deciding whether - and how - to extend tax cuts.

The U.S. Congress started its so-called "lame-duck" session - the last chance for lawmakers who were voted out of office or did not run for reelection earlier this month - to shape policy. In January 2011, a new Congress will be sworn in, with a smaller Democratic Party majority in the Senate and a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

Senate Majority Leader, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid said Congress is facing a new reality.

"American voters sent us a message two Tuesdays ago," he said. "That message is that they want us to deliver. They want us to work together. Voters did not elect only Republicans, they did not elect only Democrats. And they did not want either party to govern stubbornly, demanding 'their way or the highway.' When the heat of the campaign season cools, our constituents are more interested us in getting things done. They would rather we work with each other, than talk past each other."

Senate Minority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell said voters made clear they do not want to hear talk about change, they want real change.

The Kentucky senator on Monday announced a reversal of his position on a special kind of spending called "earmarks" - a longtime Washington practice of lawmakers inserting provisions in spending bills to fund home state projects like roads and bridges. McConnell said Republicans no longer will use earmarks.

"And what I have concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example," said McConnell.

Analysts say McConnell's reversal signals a victory for so-called Tea Party Republicans - conservatives and libertarians who are calling for tax cuts and strict limits on government spending.

Congress has not yet passed an authorization bill to fund the federal government for the current fiscal year, and it needs to do so by December 3 to keep government programs running.

One of the first controversial issues up for debate, analysts say, likely will be the tax cuts that were enacted during President George W. Bush's administration and are set to expire this year. Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have said they support extending tax breaks for middle class Americans, while returning the rates for wealthier taxpayers to higher levels.

On foreign policy, President Obama said he feels "reasonably good" about the chances of the Senate approving the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia. He said the measure has received strong bipartisan support.

Republicans have expressed concerns, however, about limiting U.S. missile defense efforts, and they say America's nuclear arsenal needs to be modernized. The New START treaty would cut U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles by about one-third, but it must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid