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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid