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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid