Congress has been stymied by Bush, Republicans

By Richard Cowan and Thomas Ferraro
Reuters
Tuesday, December 11, 2007; 10:17 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush wants it known the U.S. Congress has been asleep at the switch since Democrats took over in January. The only problem is that he and his fellow Republicans have flipped off the switch at nearly every turn, Democrats say.

"The end of 2007 is approaching fast and the new Congress has little to show for it," Bush told reporters in the White House Rose Garden last week.

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, was even less generous. "Nothing has been accomplished all year," he said.

As they excoriate political opponents, Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress have successfully stopped most major Democratic initiatives this year.

They have staged an unprecedented number of "filibusters" in the Senate, where Democrats do not have a big enough majority to end debate. The few times that wasn't the case, Bush used his veto pen to kill Democrats' top priorities, like ending the Iraq war, expanding health care to children from low-income families and expanding stem cell research.

"Sadly, Republicans in Washington are determined to make this a 'no-can-do' Congress," Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said in his party's weekly radio address on Saturday.

With only a week or two remaining in the first half of 110th Congress that convened in January, there's a deflated feeling on Capitol Hill.

Democrats and Republicans complain not enough has been accomplished. The public seems to agree, with just one in five Americans approving of the job Congress is doing, even worse than the unpopular Bush's ratings.

The legislative deadlock might get even worse next year, as election campaigns for Congress and the presidency get into full swing.

Ethan Siegal of the Washington Exchange, a private group that tracks Congress, said of Republicans' opposition tactics: "The template for trying to get into power is to make sure the party in charge doesn't have many legislative successes."

But even many Republicans think accusations of a "do-nothing" Democratic Congress won't be enough for their party to win back their majority status in the November 2008 elections.

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