Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The US Senate: “Gridlock? What Gridlock?”
The U.S. Congress currently suffers from a nearly record-high 80% disapproval rating. While the reasons for this historically high disapproval rating are complex and varied, many Americans are frustrated with the Gridlock currently plaguing Congress. Fillibuster usage is higher than ever, and the public believes that it takes a great effort to get even uncontroversial Presidential appointees confirmed.
While Americans remain frustrated with Gridlock in Congress, some Senators are wondering why they believe the legislative process is going so slowly. According to a recent Politico article, the U.S. Senate has actually enjoyed a period of bipartisanship and cooperation over the past several months. The article explains how the Senate has been able to run relatively efficiently recently--for example, out of the 13 judicial nominees, none have been blocked, and most have enjoyed yes votes from over 90 out of 100 senators. Although no controversial bills have been passed, the behavior of the Senate is still notable.
The two parties offer different explanations for the cooperation. Republicans explain that they are trying to cooperate with Democrats so that the Democratic Senators will vote for jobs bills that the House has already passed. Democrats explain the Republicans cooperative attitude by explaining that their rivals are attempting to shake the “obstructionist” label placed on them after the debt ceiling debates last summer.
It seems that although the Senate has been working with a renewed sense of cooperation recently, both parties admit that the reasons are more political than because of larger ideological shift towards increased cooperation. It will be interesting to see how this climate changes throughout this summer as the fall elections draw closer. What impacts will this change have on Gridlock and public opinion? Does this increase in cooperation signal a permanent change of behavior in the Senate?