Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Congress, little to cheer about

WASHINGTON — House and Senate lawmakers were scrambling to leave town Friday for a five-week recess with a failure to address the refugee crisis at the southern border, only the latest indignity of a year that may redefine congressional dysfunction.

The 113th Congress this week took another step toward ignominy as one of the least productive, most divided in history. Vocal anti-immigration Republicans were empowered, virtually dictating terms of two House border security bills even after party leaders had spent much of the year trying to marginalize them. The results were bills with no chance of becoming law, and ones diametrically opposed to the direction party elders had advised Republicans to go after their losses in 2012.

One measure, which would provide $694 million in funds to address the border crisis, passed Friday night in a 223-189 vote. It would also expedite the deportation of Central American children and bolster the National Guard's presence at the Mexican border. Another measure would effectively phase out President Barack Obama's program that offers temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. The vote on that bill was 216-192.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has virtually shut down the legislative process rather than subject politically vulnerable Democrats to Republican amendments designed to hurt them in November's elections.

In the House, the rush to accomplish even a relatively modest piece of legislation this week had a dramatic air, with members being summoned back from the airport as the new GOP leadership team worked to avoid embarrassment on the immigration bill. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was swarmed on the House floor Thursday night by angry members of his conference who demanded that he keep the House in session for as long as it would take to vote on a bill.

More broadly, Congress has given no indication that other major issues of the day will be confronted this year, even on matters where members of both parties agree action is needed.

The consequences of a Congress stuck in quicksand are becoming apparent.

Curtis Gans, who heads the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, said that if the first 25 primaries of this year hold true, midterm election turnout in November will be the lowest in history. Primary turnout has so far been 14.8 percent.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said, "People are convinced that nothing good is happening in Washington, D.C."

In Congress, little to cheer about 08/01/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 1, 2014 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  2. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  3. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  4. Hernando sheriff: Orlando mother turns in 18-year-old son in pawn shop burglary


    Times Staff Writer

    SPRING HILL — Hernando deputies have arrested a fourth person in connection with a pawn shop burglary, but they really didn't have to do anything to find him.

    Elijah Pickard, 18, of Orlando, was turned in by his own mother in connection with a pawn shop burglary, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office [Courtesy of Hernando County Sheriff's Office]