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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More