As Senate breaks for recess, House seethes over unfinished business
The House sent 350 bills to the Senate – some after hard votes on controversial issues – that are now unlikely to see the light of day. Why that unfinished business upsets some House Democrats.
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Much of the tension between House and Senate Democratic leaders is below the radar, in the interest of solidarity. Senate majority leader Harry Reid also faces a tough reelection bid in Nevada, and House Democrats are toning down public criticism directed at him.Skip to next paragraph
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But Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that the House will no longer be first to act on pending controversial measures, such as immigration reform or whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which expire in December. (The Senate plans to debate the latter in September.)
After struggling to find Republican partners and to solidify support among Senate Democrats, majority leader Reid gave up on moving even a scaled-down climate/energy bill before the August break.
“I can count votes,” he said, and there simply aren’t 60 for the cap-and-trade provisions on carbon emissions contained in the House bill – or, for now, even for a bill limited to pricing carbon for utilities.
Meanwhile, the case Democrats are taking to voters this summer is that a vote for Republicans is a vote for the "failed" policies of the previous Bush administration.
“Every day, congressional Republicans side with special interests over the public interest, and pledge to take us back to the ‘exact same agenda’ that got us into this mess in the first place,” said Speaker Pelosi in a statement. “Democrats are standing up for a New Direction. We are fighting for our middle class. We are not going back to the same failed Bush policies that cost us millions of jobs.”
But with the economy struggling, it’s a tough sell for the party in control of both the White House and Congress.
“The administration and Congress are having a difficult time selling the idea that there is [economic] progress,” says pollster John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International, who released a poll on Aug. 4 that puts Republicans ahead of Democrats by eight percentage points on the question of which party’s candidates for Congress voters say they are more likely to support in November. Republicans now lead Democrats 46 percent to 38 percent, with President Obama’s approval rating at 43 percent.
“By significant margins, independent voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing and say they will vote for Republicans in November. Congressional Republicans also get very low ratings from voters; but GOP candidates represent change and are in position to gain seats,” he adds.