Despite a successful November election, where the GOP increased their majority in the House, and took control of the Senate, the new Republican dominated Congress has proven unable to pass significant legislation. Since taking the reins in both Houses of Congress, the Republicans have only been able to pass two pieces of legislation. By contrast, in 2007, when the Democrats were in a similar situation, after retaking the U.S. House, they had managed to pass six pieces of legislation by this stage. The Democrats managed to push through three times as many bills then, even though the White House was still held by Republican President George W. Bush.
The two measures Republicans have been able to pass into law, included funding a terrorism insurance program, and passing a noncontroversial bipartisan bill related to Veterans mental health. Many other bills have crumbled under the weight of partisan infighting. Squabbles between the hyper-partisan GOP House leadership and the somewhat more moderate Senate leadership have generated back and forth rhetoric, but little in substantive accomplishments.
The House and Senate were able to garner enough votes to send a Keystone XL Pipeline approval bill to the President. However, the White House is likely to veto that measure, and neither the House nor the Senate has the votes whipped up to override a veto.
Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney (SC-05) summed up Republican underachievement, when, he said, of the pipeline vote:
Is it the most important piece of legislation facing the nation? No. But it is an opportunity for us to prove that we’re able to work with each other and govern, and it is a good test of whether or not the president is interested in doing that as well. We have to learn how to crawl before we can walk, and walk before we can run.
Meanwhile, as the Republicans are still learning to crawl, the nation faces a looming budget shutdown over the funding of Homeland Security. Republicans are divided over whether to derail funding to punish President Obama, for his executive order on immigration. Republicans also failed to pass an anti-abortion bill, because although the GOP Congress is almost entirely anti-choice, a few Republican lawmakers objected to not exempting rape and incest victims from the bill’s abortion ban.
Many members of the new Republican majority campaigned on ending gridlock in Washington. However, while they proved themselves able campaigners, they have not yet proven they are actually capable of governing.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.