By punishing their own laws but passing few laws, a Congress in chaos leaves much to do in 2024

(Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Associated Press)

By punishing their own laws but passing few laws, a Congress in chaos leaves much to do in 2024

Election 2024


Dec. 22, 2023

This Congress started with a showy roar, a bitter, fifteen-round, multi-day spectacle to elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives, a Republican who promised never to give up, and then did just that.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives not only moved to impeach the Republican chairman, they also punished their own colleagues with censure and expulsion, and launched an impeachment inquiry into the president.


Biden and were barely able to implement the basic principles of governing by preventing federal offices from closing.

While this first year of the 118th Congress has been a historic one, thanks to staggering Republican unrest on the House side of the Capitol, next year is headed for more of the same. With only 27 bills and resolutions signed into law, not counting a few executive appointments, this is one of the most idle sessions of Congress in recent memory.

This case was a very actively stupid political environment, said Rep. Patrick McHenry, the bow-tie Republican from North Carolina who emerged as a voice of reason as interim Speaker of the House of Representatives leading the chamber during the unrest.

Although Americans generally give low marks to Congress, as the branch of government closest to the people, it is still the primary platform the U.S. relies on, sometimes more than the presidency or the courts, to address issues and challenges of the country to solve.

The need for a functioning Congress, what one scholar calls the place where it all happens, becomes even more apparent as we head into a tumultuous presidential election year and with hot wars raging in Ukraine and the Middle East.

People’s expectations for this Congress were so low, so doing the bare minimum seems like a sufficient enough measure, says Philip Wallach, author of Why Congress and senior researcher at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington.

He said he’s grading this Congress on a curve. “I see these as symptoms rather than symptoms of a host of institutional and cultural breakdowns or decay, which have led to a lot of bad feelings and a lot of desire to lash out across the aisle,” he said.

Next year holds its own challenges, with Biden facing a possible rematch against Donald Trump, the former president and Republican


artistic leader. Trump’s loss in 2020 resulted in his supporters laying siege to the US Capitol, and an insurrection charge led to his second impeachment, for which he was acquitted by the Senate. It now threatens his removal from the ballot in Colorado.

Senate Majority Leader

Chuck Charles E.



said Donald Trump’s dark cloud is looming as the GOP tries to find its way.

We’re going to persevere, Schumer said in an interview with


he Associated Press, which lists bills to lower the price of insulin, ensure children’s safety online and others he is lining up for the new year.

While majority-control Republicans in the House of Representatives led the chaos, including the removal of indicted Republican Rep. George Santos from New York, the Senate, despite its tendency toward moderation, was not immune to the dysfunction.

A single Republican, Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, plunged the Defense Department into crisis by blocking the promotions of hundreds of military officers, including some of the nation’s most vital four-star generals. Just before the holiday break, he finally gave in.

And as Ukraine fights for its political survival against the Russian invasion, senators tried and failed to broker a U.S.-Mexico border security deal that Republicans demanded in exchange for providing more U.S. military aid to the Western ally, despite a personal visit by President Volodymyr.

Zelensky Zelensky

begging to help.

“I’m not very happy with how productive the Senate has been this year, and hopefully it will get better,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged.

of Kentucky


Trump’s influence is especially felt in the border security talks, as the former president intensifies his long history of lashing out at immigrants to the US in alarmist language reminiscent of World War II, putting pressure on his party as Republicans follow his lead .

Intelligence Committee Chairman Senator Mark Warner




said he is heartbroken


Congress failed to approve aid to Ukraine years ago. But he remains confident this will happen in the new year.

Heading into 2024, new Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson


will start the year under the same pressure to pass legislation to keep the government funded, from January 19, that led to

the expulsion of

then speaker Kevin McCarthy

‘s (R-Bakersfield) ouster

after striking an austerity deal with Biden.

Republican-era speakers are being forced to relinquish control, a bottom-up approach, as the far-right Freedom Caucus and its allies, many of whom align with Trump, refuse to go along with compromises arising from the


worrier’s office.

The right flank of the Republican Party is fueling the insurgency, deploying rarely used procedural tactics to advance their own ideas and halt those of Republican leaders.

Like the eviction motion, which was used to throw McCarthy out of the party, the right wing is relying on privileged resolutions to censure Democrats and attempt to impeach Biden and others, wresting control of the House of Representatives to take over.

And in a series of stunning rebukes to Republican leadership, enough Republican representatives bucked procedural rules to advance the few major bills that did become law this year to keep the government running and authorize military programs for which the Republican speakers had no choice but to rush to the Democrats. for assistance.

The speakers are just trying to deal with it, Wallach said.

As Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a tough border security bill that the Senate refused to consider, Johnson, in a sign of challenges ahead, urged Biden on Thursday to move on his own, without Congress, to register migrant arrivals.

It has to start with you, Johnson wrote. I urge you to take immediate executive action.

It’s a shift from

the time that Rep.

Nancy Pelosi

(D-San Francisco)’s run as it was

speaker, when the mighty hammer wielded political fear and discipline, as well as legislative results. The last Congress, one of the most productive in decades, passed more than 300 laws in two years, including major bills on infrastructure and climate change.

By the end of the year, it wasn’t just the deposed McCarthy who quit, but dozens of legislators who were on their way out.

After his stint as interim chairman, McHenry, a powerful committee chairman with allies across Congress, promptly announced that he too would retire at the end of his term as his far-right colleagues increasingly claim more power.

We need people who are realists, not just blind ideologues, he said.


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