February 22nd, 2010
01:23 PM ET
5 years ago

Is gridlocked Congress broken?

Washington (CNN) – Two months into the new year, Congress is at a standstill, stuck in party-line votes, heated debates and electoral politics.

And there's no indication that will change before mid-term elections in November, political observers say: Democrats are afraid to take chances on anything that might alienate voters, and Republicans can stand pat and hope the anti-incumbent mood brewing in the country will help weaken Democrats' control of Congress.

"The problem is the combination of highly ideologically polarizing political parties operating at sort of near parity," said Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution.

With many members of Congress in tough re-election fights this year - and bitter fighting between the two parties - key legislative items such as health care and climate change go nowhere, said Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor.

"Worried members of Congress are often distracted by their opponents' campaigns," he said. "They start thinking of every tough vote they must cast as a potential campaign commercial to be used against them."

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Filed under: Congress
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Melissa

    YES!!!!!!!!! They are more concerned with politics, and ideology, than with doing whats right for the people.

    February 22, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Yes and this is precisely why the tough issues keep getting worse because nobody is Congress wants to tackle something controversial.

    February 22, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Tony in Maine

    Three things need to end. And the easier of the two is still too difficult to happen.

    The easy one – the filibuster must end. It has no place in a democracy. Scheduled elections will take care of lesser examples of a tyranny by the majority. If SCOTUS itself ever becomes less partisan (ie – Scalia, Thomas and Alito retire) it will take care of the more egregious forms.

    The second most difficult – an attitude common to politicians must change. It's not all about you. John Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage. I can't think of a single member of Congress these past three decades who might qualify as a subject for a new chapter.

    Finally, and most difficult, lobbying must be made a capital offense, both for the lobbyist and for the executives (union or corporate) who hire them.

    February 22, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. NC

    This is not what we sent members of Congress to D. C. for. Either work together to solve our Country's problems or pack your bags and leave. Enough of these childish games.

    February 22, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. J. Richter

    By voting against filibuster proof majority (as some in Massachussets claim to have done) we only help to worsen the problem – voting for a congress whose salary we pay but whom we encourage to go their and block everything being done by the majority. Why would anyone allow their competitor to succeed by passing a successful legislation – that's career suicide.

    What we need is to decide which side we want and then give that side the filibuster proof majority. I thought we had tried trickle down tax to the top economics the prior 8 years and it only resulted in a prosperous country with surpluses slowly turned to deficits, net job losses, and eventually a total crash and ensuing bailouts.

    February 22, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Dar

    I love how the Dems still try to blame the Repub's for their failure to pass the HC bill when they had the majority to get this put through.
    Dont get me wrong, IM glad it didn't get put through as the bill as it stands is junk yard of hopless spending that you and I would be paying for years to come.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    February 22, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. no need to know

    Other than President Obama the intelligent american people are not surprized at the fact that idiot minded republicans, independents and their voters who voted them in office are blocking all progress along with idiot democrates and independents that don't know when they are in charge to get the agenda of their party president passed. These so called congressional representatives are the worst of idiots evern voted in office.

    February 22, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. David in Dallas

    Do you even need to ask? Of course it is broken. The Senate should be abolished. Or, if not, then fibilbuster rules should be changed to what they once were. A senator who wants to filibuster a bill should have to start talking on the senate floor non-stop until the bill is withdrawn. Now, all it takes is a threat of filibuster, and the Democratic leaders (Reid) starts wetting himself. The Democrats need to get some leaders with balls.

    February 22, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Ralph Jull

    Sure it is, it has been broken the last 30 years. Repubs have said that partisianship is great, while they controlled Congress. Now they think it stinks? Do tell. They make suggestions and some are included and they still say no! no! no! Their party has become the "NOOOO" party not republicans. I love their hound dog look everytime they are on TV. Poor me! Nobody likes me acting. They have a right to that look.

    February 22, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Don't y'all worry your simple little minds. One way or another we the voters will fix the problem – either this election or the next. But the fix might not be what the PACs hope for. We are tired of listening to some suit tell us how we're supposed to think or vote. The unwashed and uneducated mass is about to become a force to be reckoned with.

    February 22, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Hugo

    I think it apparent with the way Biden and Obama were trying to take credit for the success in Iraq as why the Republicans are not "cooperating" with his leftist spend, spend, spend agenda. If they were to put forth their market solutions that don't include exacerbating the debt and doubling the tax rate to middle class tax payers in support of the quagmire of self created problems he and the Democrats have now created they would stick a feather in their hat and call it macaroni! They continue on their course of destruction and we ALL are paying the price, they actually think they can BUY Reid his seat in the 2010 elections, I find it all disgusting!

    February 22, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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