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

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

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