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. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

  2. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  3. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]