In Washington or Back Home, Insiders Have Little Hope for Election-Year Legislating
Republicans and Democrats often bicker about whether they are in Washington enough in an election year to accomplish anything, with the minority party invariably pointing fingers at the majority.
And while that's true in this week's Congressional Insiders poll -- 66 percent of Republicans say the schedule is "about right" while 48 percent of Democrats say lawmakers spend "too much time away" -- lawmakers in both parties sounded a depressing note when asked about the legislating schedule.
How much harder is it for Congress to legislate effectively in an election year?
|Way, way harder||46%||76%|
|A little harder||35%||14%|
|About the same||15%||5%|
Does Congress spend too much time away from the Capitol in an election year?
|Too much time away||48%||14%|
|Too little time away||11%||19%|
"It really doesn't matter how much time we spend in DC," said one disaffected Democrat. "There are no institutions to encourage open discussions, cooperation or compromise. Until we get Members who WANT to talk to each other, nothing important will happen here regardless of how much time we spend in DC."
A Republican who said that lawmakers spend too little time away from Washington added, "Nothing good happens when Congress is in session, regardless of who holds the gavel...when the [Republicans] hold it, what Congress does is just less bad."
Another Democrat agreed, at least about spending less time in Washington: "The Republicans have no agenda except to blame the President for everything and do nothing to help him solve any problems, so the less we are here the better."
Republicans and Democrats do agree on one thing: It's harder to legislate in an election year. Of course, they differ on who is to blame.
In this week's poll, 76 percent of Republican said it's "way, way harder" to write laws in campaign years and another 14 percent said it's a "little harder." Among Democrats, 46 percent said it is "way, way harder" to legislate and 35 percent said it's "a little harder."
No Republicans or Democrats said that it is easier.
Republicans blamed President Obama or the Democratic-held Senate. "We've had zero leadership from the president; he's focused on running for reelection," said one GOPer.
Another Republican chimed in: "Senate Democrats refuse to do anything without the complications of an upcoming election. This year, they just want to run out the clock until the President is elected. The American people continue to suffer. The Senate: where good bills go to die."
And Democrats blamed Republicans for trying to undercut the president. "When you have a Republican Party saying that their main goal is the failure of the President, it becomes way harder to agree on anything," said a Democratic lawmaker.
Added another Democrat, "Republicans are willing to harm our country if they think it will help them win elections this fall. So even historically bipartisan bills, like the transportation bill, are stuck."