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Democrats Tout Achievements, Republicans Criticize Unfinished Budget, Spending

Democrats Tout Achievements, Republicans Criticize Unfinished Budget, Spending
Democrats Tout Achievements, Republicans Criticize Unfinished Budget, Spending

The U.S. Congress has adjourned ahead of mid-term elections, allowing lawmakers to return home to campaign before the key November vote. Democrats are touting their legislative achievements, while minority Republicans accuse members of the party of President Barack Obama of dashing out of town without completing their work.

Congressional Democrats say they are proud of what they have accomplished since President Obama took office, including passage of an economic stimulus bill, health care legislation, tough financial regulations, consumer protections, and bills to help students, veterans and small businesses.

But Republicans are quick to point out that a lot of work remains unfinished on critical issues such as passing a budget and what to do about the Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, voiced his party's view that Democrats pushed a fiscally irresponsible agenda with out-of-control spending.

"And yet we find out that there is a lot of work that should have been done that simply won't be done," said Cornyn.

But Senate Democrats blamed Republicans for blocking their attempts to move forward with important legislation, including a defense authorization bill.

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey notes how his Democratic Party has lacked the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural tactics used by Republicans to delay or prevent legislation from moving forward.

"They have used that filibuster historical time, 101 times last year alone, a record high," noted Menendez. "And yet, as they use the filibuster to impede progress, then they lament how things don't get done. It's really very interesting."

Senate Democrats had included in the defense authorization legislation a measure to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans homosexuals from serving openly in the U.S. military. Republicans had called for a military review to be completed first.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans also had fierce disagreements over the accomplishments of the Congress.

But Karlyn Bowman with the American Enterprise Institute says Americans are focused on one issue, as the country has faced bad news on the economy and polls indicate most Americans know someone who has lost a job in the last six months.

"No other issue comes close to dominating the electoral landscape as the economy does this year," said Bowman.

The top Republican in the House of Representatives, John Boehner of Ohio, accused Democrats of ignoring the needs of the American people by ramming through costly legislation and putting the election above the needs of their constituents.

"We've had time all year to move a lot of job-killing policies, but yet, we've had no time to do a budget, no time to move any appropriation bills, which means no opportunity to cut spending," said Boehner.

But the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, strongly disagreed, saying the bills that were approved, including health care reform, were job creators - not job killers. She said members of her Democratic Party can campaign proudly on their accomplishments in Congress and the work of President Obama.

"This is a pretty exciting election because we're very proud of the agenda that the president put forth," said Pelosi. "We're very proud of his leadership. Our members are confident about their participation in it. And in each and every district they are beating a drum about taking us in a new direction."

Before it adjourned, Congress passed a temporary spending bill to fund the federal government for two months. Lawmakers will have much work to do when they return after the elections, including passing a budget and taking up the issue of the tax cuts.