House Republicans are working hard in an effort to make the 113rd Congress even worse than the 112nd. If the last Congress wasn’t enough of a disastrous lesson in how constant obstruction hurts the nation, get ready for even more.
“Welcome to divided government. A big part of our job has been to stop bad things from happening.” So said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner who also repeated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s assertion that the GOP’s only goal is to stop anything President Obama and the Democrats try to do.
Those “bad things” that Democrats and President Obama have tried to accomplish include the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure, providing accessible and affordable health care for every American, getting America onto a clean energy grid and off of foreign oil, creating jobs, passing meaningful immigration reform, protecting women’s health, strengthening voting rights and civil rights for all, passing common sense gun control regulations designed to prevent mass shootings, regulations to keep our air and water clean, regulations to prevent future economic crashes, and the list goes on and on.
What’s unbelievable is that all of these things were at one time supported by the Republican Party itself. But rather than work with Democrats to find compromise on all of these important issues, Republicans have run to the extreme right because they refuse to work with the first African-American President, revealing the deep racism that is entrenched in the GOP. To that end, the GOP has obstructed bill after bill in the Senate, filibustering over 360 times since 2007. And you can forget about moving anything through the Republican controlled House.
When it comes to productivity, only 15 legislative items have become law under the current Congress. That’s fewer than the 23 items that became law at this same point in the 112th Congress, which passed a historically low number of bills that were signed into law.
To many observers, these are signs of broken government, gerrymandered congressional districts and out-of-control partisanship on Capitol Hill.
This lack of production has created a lack of confidence among the American public. According to a new Gallup Poll, only 10% of Americans have confidence in the current Congress, a new low. Incredibly, Congress ranks lower than the banking institutions that nearly collapsed the economy and lower than the labor unions that conservatives seek to destroy. But even though Republicans are sabotaging the country in an effort to block President Obama’s Democratic agenda, the American people have far more confidence in him than they have in Congress. 36% of Americans are confident in the Presidency which should be a sign to Republicans that Americans support the policies that the GOP have been obstructing.
But it would seem Republicans don’t care what Americans think. Despite 90% of Americans supporting gun control legislation, Republicans flatly rejected the will of the people and blocked it from going forward. More recently, House Republicans killed their own farm bill because it didn’t cripple the food stamp program enough to suit their tastes. House Republicans have moved so far to the right that they can’t even bring themselves to vote for bills they need to survive as a party. Immigration reform miraculously passed the Senate with bipartisan support, yet House Republicans are poised to sabotage that too because they see anything good that passes as a political and policy victory for President Obama. Even though not passing it will destroy any credibility Republicans have left with Latino voters, the House GOP cares more about blocking anything that will make the first African-American President look good.
This is the fourth straight year that Congress has ranked so low confidence. Three of those last four have been marked by Republican control of the House combined with Republicans obstructing the Senate. Only the American people have the power to change this. The 2014 midterm election is just over a year away and if Americans want Congress to improve, the only answer is to kick Republicans to the curb and give Democrats a filibuster proof Senate and majority control of the House. Staying at home and not voting is precisely how we got the current Congress in the first place. That is why it is the responsibility of every citizen to make their vote count and send a message to Republicans that if they want to be elected in the future, they need to drastically change their policies. If we want a Congress that listens to Americans, we need to vote for people who actually care more about the people than they do about their extreme base.