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Divided new Congress is getting little accomplished

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Congress has passed just 12 new measures since January.

One modifies pay for podiatrists working for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Another renames a vets center in North Ogden, Utah. A third revises the charter of the National Future Farmers of America Organization.

Democrats, who control the House, blame Republicans who control the Senate -- namely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. -- for not considering the bills the House sends over.

"Leader McConnell has turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard for priorities the American people care about," said Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

McConnell grinned at the characterization that House bills were going nowhere in the Senate.

"I think that's pretty accurate, yeah," he told the Los Angeles Times. "They've been busy here in the first part of the Congress sending us things that have -- shall I say -- no potential in the Senate. And I understand that there's a new majority. They want to lay out, you know, how they feel about things."

 

Democrats flush with a new House majority after nearly a decade in the minority are sending over a rash of bills most political watchers believe have little chance of passing the Senate, such as universal background checks for gun purchases, net neutrality, climate change, congressional ethics, expanding voter access, raising the minimum wage and more.

Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she's optimistic.

"Public sentiment will weigh in, and the Senate will see ... that many of the pieces of legislation that we have passed or (are) about to pass are 70 percent to 80 percent bipartisanly and nonpartisanly supported by the American people," Pelosi said. "And (Republicans) will either act upon the legislation or be accountable to the public for why they do not."

She noted that both chambers were essentially at a standstill in January during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

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