The 112th Congress was elected in 2010 based on promises to "clean up Washington," but they ushered in a partisan environment of acrimony and accusation that has led to an unrewarding conclusion. This may prove to be one of the least productive sessions of Congress since World War II. Even the do-nothing Congress of the Truman era was more productive than this one.
Under partisan and divisive GOP leadership, the people's regard for Congress has dropped to its lowest levels in over 40 years. The current 10 percent approval rating is the lowest Congress has ever received. A close look at the Congressional Record will reveal that the second week of September 2012 was the first 5-day voting work week for the House in two years. Congress has closed its business to campaign earlier than at any time in the last 60 years, creating only about 150 pieces of legislation that have actually become law. None of these bills have addressed the most pressing issues Americans are facing--high levels of unemployment, rising hunger, poverty, and homelessness, a debt crisis among students and a middle class burdened with the rising cost of living and underwater mortgages. Rep. John Lewis made this statement on congressional inaction:
"It is a disgrace," said Rep. John Lewis, "that the leadership of the House feels satisfied to end our business while people in this country are struggling and suffering. I think Gov. Romney said what he really believed. The leadership of the Republican party does not feel compelled by the needs of 47 percent of the people, and they are willing to let them fend for themselves. They do not believe that government has a responsibility to act, even when we are facing alarming levels of unemployment, debt and poverty. It's ok to bail out the banks and big business, but it is not ok to use the resources of government of the people to help meet their needs. Something is wrong with that. It is just not right."
Today the Democrats held a news conference on the issue after having sent a letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, imploring him to keep Congress in session to work on some of the critical legislation still hanging in the balance. In comparison the following is a list of accomplishments of the 110th Congress.
"It is my hope", said Lewis, "that the people of this nation will recognize the need to elect a new Congress committed to bi-partisanship and compromise. Under the best practices of this Congress, we work to reconcile the differences between parties for the good of the American people. We never held the work of the people hostage to partisan nature of politics. The people deserve better. I hope they will send back members committed to taking the nation forward."