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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid