Now that the 114th Congress has reported for duty, the American public can expect the Republican-controlled Congress and President Obama to work cooperatively during his final two years in the White House to improve the economy, employment, health care and infrastructure.
Oh, wait. Did we say, “cooperatively”?
That is what should happen in a properly functioning Washington. Unfortunately, anyone who has been paying attention to how government has functioned in the last few years, and to what took place within 24 hours of the new Congress signing in, knows that’s a pipe dream.
All indications point to even more of the political maneuvering and sharpshooting that depicted the previous congressional class. Except this time the Republicans have the largest House majority since World War II, with 246 seats, and a majority in the Senate, with 54 seats.
Despite leading the House back to the majority, Rep. John A. Boehner won tepid support in retaining his speakership. Two dozen Republicans voted against Boehner. According to the New York Times, “It was the largest number of votes against a speaker from members of his or her own party in at least two decades.”
Boehner fended off hard-right challenges from Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and two tea party representatives. They believe Boehner, despite a solid record of obstructing Obama’s agenda, has been too soft on the president. While unsuccessful, they surely squelched any thoughts Boehner may have had of cooperating.
Over in the Senate, new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would make the Keystone XL pipeline, adamantly opposed by Obama, the first order of business, all the while knowing Obama will veto the legislation.
For his part, Obama’s use of executive authority, understandable in light of Congress’ failure to support his policy choices, is a stick in the eye of Republicans.
So far, it’s the same old, same old.
The Keystone pipeline is just one item on the GOP’s agenda of futility. Republicans promise continued efforts to kill Obamacare, also going nowhere. The parties will continue to bicker, the president will have his veto pen at the ready and the American people will end up where they always do: on the losing end.
The 113th Congress, thanks to some last-minute bill signings by the president, just missed the title of least productive Congress in modern history despite so many urgent needs. The 114th Congress has begun in an equally partisan manner, leaving the American people with the sickening prospect that little will be accomplished before the next presidential election.