From Politico — Written by Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim — Image courtesy of John Shinkle/POLITICO
Sen. John McCain recently reflected on the first five months of GOP rule in Washington, ticking off the party’s greatest congressional achievements to date.
There’s the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch. There’s also the dozen Obama-era regulations that have been repealed. “I’m overjoyed. Sure. That’s what we promised,” McCain said with a tight smile. “I’m really happy.”
Then he paused.
“I was being sarcastic … The fact is I’m disappointed,” the famously gruff Arizona Republican fumed in an interview late last month, calling his party’s governing plans a “train wreck” set to hit Congress in September.
“Everything piles up, we go to the edge of the cliff, shut down the government, then we have an omnibus or a continuing resolution where we can vote yes or no. No amendments, no improvements, nothing,” McCain added.
Concerns are rising in Washington that Congress may be headed toward the economic and political disaster of a debt default and a government shutdown later this year. And the chamber most likely to get Congress out of the jam — the Senate — is failing to live up to its moniker as the world’s greatest deliberative body.
Rather than a honeymoon with a new presidency and Republicans firmly in the majority, the Senate has become a grinding churn of nomination votes constantly delayed by Democrats, and partisan warfare with little bipartisan cooperation other than averting an April government shutdown.
Instead of focusing on a bipartisan spending deal to avert the blunt impending budget cuts of sequestration and lift the debt ceiling, the GOP Congress has been cranking away at a partisan agenda of tax cutting, repealing Obamacare and rolling back Obama-era regulations. Republicans aren’t yet close on health care and have barely started on taxes, though GOP leaders insist that a vote on an Obamacare repeal measure will occur before August.
They won’t, however, guarantee that it will succeed.
Party leaders say that the dearth of bipartisan legislation will end soon, with consideration in June of a veterans’ bill as well as possibly new Iran and Russia sanctions and extending user fees for the Food and Drug Administration — one of a number of looming deadlines that hit at the end of September.