News / USA

    US Congress Set to Recess With Major Issues Unresolved

    Speaker of the House John Boehner after meeting with reporters as Congress prepares to shut down until after the elections in November, Sept. 21, 2012.
    Speaker of the House John Boehner after meeting with reporters as Congress prepares to shut down until after the elections in November, Sept. 21, 2012.
    Cindy Saine
    Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are leaving Washington and senators are expected to depart soon for their home districts to campaign for re-election for the next seven weeks.  Lawmakers are leaving a pile of unfinished business on major issues such as how to avert across-the-board cuts in government and defense spending.  

    Congress is set to leave town at one of the earliest points before a November election since 1960, and the departure comes on the heels of another seven-week recess in August and early September.  House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi organized a news conference with a number of Democratic lawmakers on the East Steps of the U.S. Capitol to criticize the Republican House leadership for deciding to depart so early.

    'We are here standing together to recognize that since August 3rd, when Congress adjourned, and November 14th when we are being called back into session, we will have been in session only eight days.  That is just not right.  Democrats are prepared to stay until we get the job done," said Pelosi.

    Republican House Speaker John Boehner blamed the Democratic-controlled Senate for the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

    "Well you know, instead of them having this demonstration on the House steps, maybe they should have had it on the Senate steps.  Senate Democrats have not done a budget for three and a half years," said  Boehner.

    Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer blamed Republicans for bringing up bills to deliver political messages instead of tackling the real problems Americans face.

    "Republicans are leaving town with a stack of unfinished business the public expects us to get done.  Chief among them are the need to create jobs and avert the fiscal cliff," said Hoyer.

    The "fiscal cliff" refers to the Bush tax cuts that are expiring at the end of the year, and automatic across-the-board spending cuts due at the same time, which Congress approved as an incentive to get them to agree on a budget.   Many economists say allowing the tax cuts to expire and the automatic spending cuts to take effect would plunge the U.S. economy back into a recession.  

    Speaker Boehner blamed President Barack Obama for what he termed a lack of leadership.

    "President Obama's latest excuse is, 'Well, you can't change Washington from the inside.'  Well, you actually can change Washington from the inside.  It takes courage, it takes determination and it takes sincerity.  And it is called leadership," he said.

    American University Professor Allan Lichtman says he is not sure if Americans' approval of Congress can go much lower.

    "I don’t see how they [voters] can be any unhappier with Congress then they have been, with approval ratings well under 20 percent. You know they have approval ratings lower than Attila the Hun. So I don’t think voters are going to focus on, you know, the particular failures of Congress. You’ve got to understand, that for all the anti-incumbent sentiment, the overwhelming major of incumbents are still going to, will, win," said Lichtman.

    When members of Congress return after the November election, they will need to move quickly and will likely schedule some late night sessions to tackle the spending and tax issues they have failed to agree on so far.  And they will know which ones of them will still have a seat in Congress next year.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora