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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid