I'm very angry to read a Reuters report that the Senate is deadlocked, and can make no progress with urgent legislation, because of partisan bickering.
A partisan election-year battle over high gasoline prices and a Republican push to open more U.S. coastal waters and federal land to oil and gas drilling has brought work in the U.S. Senate to a halt.
Lawmakers are preparing to head off for a month-long break before gearing up for the November congressional and presidential elections. It appears the housing rescue bill signed by President George W. Bush on Wednesday might be the last significant piece of legislation from the current Congress, says Paul Light of New York University's Center for the Study of Congress.
"There is always a slowdown in the eighth year of a two-term presidency," Light said. "Both parties believe their candidate will win and they don't want to do anything that will embarrass their candidate."
I'm equally angered by the impasse in the House of Representatives, where Speaker Pelosi is flatly refusing to debate real issues with the Republican minority.
With fewer than 20 legislative days before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the entire appropriations process has largely ground to a halt because of the ham-handed fighting that followed Republican attempts to lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration. And after promising fairness and open debate, Pelosi has resorted to hard-nosed parliamentary devices that effectively bar any chance for Republicans to offer policy alternatives.
“I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she says impatiently when questioned. “I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy.”
“I respect the office that I hold,” she says. “And when you win the election, you win the majority, and what is the power of the speaker? To set the agenda, the power of recognition, and I am not giving the gavel away to anyone.”
Well, Ms. Pelosi, given that you promised - guaranteed - to promote genuine debate and non-partisanship, and overcome the "divisiveness" of your Republican predecessor in office, I think you owe us all an apology for your earlier lies.
I might add that I'm neither Democrat nor Republican, and would - and will - vote for individuals of either party in future elections, depending on my assessment of the individual. I don't vote a party line. I vote for the person who, in my judgment, is closest to my own ideals and ambitions and perspectives.
What I do know is that the 2009 budget and spending bills are being held up by this party political bickering. The national government is dependent on the House and Senate to pass these bills timeously - and for the past several years, they haven't. They've relied each year on a temporary spending authorization to keep Government going while they bicker and argue. This means that departments can't use the funds they've requested for new equipment and projects, being forced to limp along from day to day with only limited operating expenditure available. This can put lives at risk. I've seen how, for example, the Bureau of Prisons has had to postpone the purchase of emergency equipment, waiting on the passage of the budget, while those of us who worked inside high-security prisons were put at greater risk without it.
Maybe it's time to kick out all incumbents in the House and Senate, of both parties. Elect new faces, and let them know - in no uncertain terms - that if they behave like their predecessors, we'll kick them out too!
That may be a pipe dream, of course . . . but it's a very tempting one! Perhaps, if the people of this country get disgusted enough, they might yet adopt it.
One may hope.