February 22nd, 2010
01:23 PM ET
12 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."

Full story

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (61 Responses)

    Both Parties NEED TO STOP THE POLITICTS Democrats should grow some and use their Majority and Republicans should deal with their losses AND WORK TOGETHER TO SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS! Republicans stop saying NO To everything even your own bills just to play Politicts ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

    February 22, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Dean

    Your all FIRED Pack up your stuff and go home.

    February 22, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Bob in Pa

    No, being gridlocked actually saves it (and us) from itself.

    February 22, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Padraig

    It is interesting that is being driving as a Democrat vs. Repulican gridlock. There are moderate Democrats who are not in agreement with their party.

    February 22, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Bill NY

    Sadly they are breaking us and don't care. Lets take away their health insurance and deny them the right to raise their own pay. Make them pay tax on every lobby dollar that comes in. Its supposed to be public service, not the other way round.

    February 22, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. katiec

    More and more people are realizing what the republicans are doing to us and our country and are getting disgusted, discouraged and dismayed with their actions.
    They have no concern for our country, show no responsibility in trying to solve the diasters they created and have made a priority of goals to destroy our president, support big business, party first and win at any cost.
    This is not we, the American people, want or need. They are a disgrace to our political system, our country and us.

    February 22, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. ronalde

    Why would anyone vote to keep someone in office who isn't doing anything for the american people,i don't care if you are a repug or a dem if you don't have my best intrest in heart why would i vote for you if you are just there taking up space.

    February 22, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Party and self-re-election all the republicans ever think about. These bills could have passed months ago and freed everyone's calendar for the campaigning.

    Stall tactics working against the republicans? You betcha'

    February 22, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Jason

    Broken? Nope. We paid for this mess.
    Here's your sign.

    February 22, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. american patriot

    WELL it is about TIME the Media starts asking the American People what we think.

    Congress Broken NO.
    Congress CORRUPT YES.
    Just like the Corrupt Banks, Home Lenders and Corporations and their Lobbiyst.
    Congress is owned and run by Lobbiyst in return for Campaign Donations/BRIBES

    February 22, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    The gridlock in Congress is all part of the Republicans plan to regain power.

    They've done nothing but block everything the President and the Democratic Party has tried to do for our country – basically, the Republicans have been trying to thwart the will of the people who voted them out November 2008.

    The Republicans have meanwhile been stoking anti-incumbent feelings and saying that the Democrats have failed and deserve to be booted out – even though it's those same Republicans who've done everything in their power to create that failure.

    I can only conclude that the Republicans truly hate our country.

    GOP = Party Before Country

    February 22, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. american patriot

    Congress must be REMOVED and new Elections held.
    They no longer do the will of the people only the will of the Lobbiyst.
    Lobbiying is BRIBERY and must be OUTLAWED.
    A NEW Continental Congress has already been Elected by Citizens and officals have been elected from 45 states so far.
    Congress is about to BE FIRED under the Law of the United States Constitution

    February 22, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Peggy Tx

    Yes congress is broken!!

    Only President Obama has retained credibility with the American people. Many months ago, we looked to him as a potential leader that would deliver us from the bondage of Republican rule, and now, we are NOT disappointed. No, he is not the messiah, he is just a man. A man destined for greatness, but now he needs us, he needs Congress, he needs the Senate, he needs all God loving patriotic Americans to rally and support him in his endeavors to keep America on track.

    February 22, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Steph

    It is too bad we haven't elected enough adults who just go out and do the right thing. They are all so afraid of the "swiftboating" type commercials. Sadly, they haven't figured out that the negative commercials will be there no matter what. We all know that the truth is irrelevant to certain people. They'll smear you with flat out lies. So, do what's right. At least they can sleep with a clear conscious.

    February 22, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |

    As long as the GOP continues to play politics instead of helping and working for the people congress will continue to stay gridlocked. The GOP continues to listen to the very vocal 11% of their base and think they represent the other 89% of the American people. The GOP with this approach is very wrong and they will find that out in November because that 11% can not win the elections the GOP thinks it has a chance at winning. But so be it, continue to just say no right up until the time the American people say no to you.

    February 22, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. James

    A FULL REDRESS of Congress for not doing the will of the People.
    It is the Law of the United States Constitution period.
    The law must be enforced and members of Congress must be removed from Office.
    WE THE PEOPLE have the right to REDRESS and or ABOLOISH the Government if it is not doing the WILL of the People.

    Are they doing the will of the People. Obviously NOT.

    Except for Ron Paul, the only Patriot among US.

    February 22, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. Bobby Donson

    Congress is hardly BROKEN.

    Its more effective than the American Banking system it SAVED.

    Its more effective than most of the American Auto industry that it SAVED.

    And despite Republican obstruction of their constitutional duty, Congress is trying to resolve a giant problem for the American people- THE NEAR MONOPOLY OF THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY.

    Don't let half of Congress "tar" the other half of Congress.

    Health Insurance for profit is obscene, absurd and a set of choking hands on the necks of every insured American while letting Un-insured Americans abuse the current system.

    Congress is hardly broken. But "half" of Congress seems to be on "Congressional Welfare" as in, " I won't do a thing for my pay check".

    Look when the Lazy Half of Congress says the stimulus is NOT working, they should be saying, We, the lazy half of Congress are NOT working and were too lazy to find out or to offer honest assessments of the stimulus.


    The Stimulus cut taxs. The Stimulus kept cops and firemen on the job. The Stimulus WILL begin to build out roads/bridges and infastructure but has NOT started that to the extent that we can results.

    It's a weird day when Republicans attack the stimulus for giving working Americans tax cuts. Send those bums back to their country club.

    Americans should have the same health care as your congressman or should your congressman pay the same as Americans? Discuss.

    February 22, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. Mike in MN

    It remains to be seen if it remains in grid lock.
    There is no question the grid lock is an improvement over the liberal/progressive Democrats having free reign to cram their bills down the thraots of unwilling voters.
    The most telling argument that the current grid lock is a good thing is the statement in the article that states Democrats are aftaid to take chances on anything that might alienate voters. If the alternative to grid lock is to have Democrats continue to pass bills that voters do not want than grid lock is an improvement.
    If the liberal/progressive Democrats are willing to move to the right where they can find common ground with Republicans, the grid lock might be broken. If not the grid lock will remain that blocks liberal/progressive Democrats from craming their will down the throats of a majority of center right voters.
    Republicans will have little to fear holding their ground and supporting the will of the majority of voters unless Democrats actually start writing bills voters like and Republicans still oppose them.

    February 22, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Ken

    I'm sure all the America hating liberals will blame everyone but themselves, but they are the ones that had all the control and things still are gridlocked. Its probably George Bushes fault.

    February 22, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Yas

    Congress seems to be in permanent party campaign mode instead of doing their jobs and working for what is best for the country and ALL the people they are working for regardless of polical party.

    Maybe if we had term limits they wouldn't need to worry about getting re-elected next term and get some work done...maybe we need to change their benefit package (ie: expenses, health insurance and retirement plan) so that they are faced with the same stress and concerns we their employers have to deal with every day.

    February 22, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Charlie in Maine

    Nothing that could not be fixed with 5 or 6 New Democratic Senators.

    February 22, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    For the most part, gridlock is probably working out all right. If they can't pass anything, they can't take a way more of our freedom. I read this morning about the ridiculous story about how some knothead is trying to get the hotdog reengineered in a politcal correctness vein. I really just want the Federal government to provide for the national defense and stay out of my life.

    February 22, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. ANGIE

    In a word, YES!!!!!

    February 22, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. buckwheat

    In a few words they are not doing what they were sent there to do..They are afraid of losing a job that have perks that would shame a billionaire. Where else can you cross a river and return a millionaire at tax payers expense.? Hell yes there is trouble in paradise and they are to blame. The party is over. Wait till the next great surprise hits when people find that Social Security is broke also. Obama should fire some of that high priced White House help he and his wife has. Park the fuel guzzling jets Nancy Pelosi and he has. The people are cutting but the government lawmakers keep spending like there is no bottom to the till. No one scattered around the world gives a rats rear end what the president or Pelosi thinks.

    February 22, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. B

    The parties, and the country are now so divisive and partisan that the system does not work.

    The American people are SICK of it going on, nothing is getting done....

    Tribalism is taking over and we are going backwards, civility is gone.

    February 22, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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