The Congressional Thaw
Alex M. Parker
Compromise may finally be coming back in style on Capitol Hill
This year, the usual partisan bitterness is beginning to mellow into a slight flavor of bipartisanship -- but only a tiny bit.
"It might seem to be that the stars are beginning to align," House Majority Leader
During the meeting, House Speaker
"That's a concession from the
But Democrats are also savoring the change in tone of their counterparts, from their usual style of brinkmanship with the
"They really would like to pass a few bills, so they can say that they've actually passed something," says
Some Democrats are downright giddy that the low Congressional approval ratings -- a February Gallup poll shows that only 10 percent of Americans approve of the job that lawmakers have been doing -- and the rising economic tide are not only giving them the upper hand in negotiations, but are also allowing them the chance to control the legislative agenda. Even though the president's hopes for comprehensive tax reform or higher taxes for millionaires still seems unlikely, Democrats are still itching to put Republicans on the spot over issues on the economy, home mortgages, and taxes.
"It's creating a situation where some Republicans may start saving face and may try to cut deals with the President and Democrats in order to pass legislation to save their seats," one House Democratic aide says.
The parties are still locking horns over issues such as gas prices and contraception, but there are other brief glimpses of comity.
Party leaders indicated that they would try to move forward with the traditional appropriations process, rather than enter a showdown over the deficit -- the playbook from the last several congressional sessions. And in February, the
For the most part, Congressional business will be drowned out by the upcoming elections, and that's a big part of why the tides may be shifting.
"As much as [the Republican] base likes being just in opposition, I do think that middle of the road voters are disgusted by the partisanship," Tanner says.
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The Congressional Thaw | Politics
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