Congress is back in action — and divided as ever
WASHINGTON — Congress resumes work on Monday as divided as ever on the nation's priorities and focused on themes it hopes will resonate with voters before November's midterm elections.
Democrats, who have seized on income inequality as a major theme of the 2014 campaign, are pushing to increase the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage and have scheduled a test vote Monday night in the Senate on a bill to extend long-term unemployment insurance for people out of work for 26 weeks or longer.
Those benefits lapsed Dec. 28 for 1.3 million people when Congress left for the holidays without taking action. Republicans have said they are open to extending benefits but want the cost of doing so offset by spending cuts and other changes.
Over the weekend, President Obama and leaders in the Democrat-controlled Senate challenged Republicans to oppose the unemployment legislation, which would extend benefits by three months.
“Republicans in Congress have to get away from being a Republican in Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on CBS' “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “They are just out of touch with what's going on in America today.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican viewed as a possible presidential contender in 2016, said Democrats are pressing the issue because “they want desperately to talk about anything but Obamacare.” He spoke on CNN's “State of the Union.”
For their part, Republicans who control the House pledged to remain focused on the health care law and the rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the law “is broken and cannot be fixed.”
Cantor said the House Republican leaders will push legislation to ensure the security of personal data collected from individuals who have enrolled in private insurance through the federal government's health care site. He said Republicans plan to closely monitor the administration's enrollment numbers.
“Our efforts will be shaped by our desire to help protect the American people from the harmful effects of this law,” Cantor said in a memo released Friday, outlining House GOP priorities.
Reid acknowledged an “awful” start to the health care website. But he said changes to the site have improved its function, and he hailed the law's other provisions, such as allowing young people to remain on their parent's health insurance plans until age 26.
“It's already working,” Reid said. “Republicans should get a life and start talking about doing something constructively.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Government survey: More teens trying out e-cigarettes than real thing
- Georgia prosecutor Yates tapped for No. 2 post in Justice Department
- New York farmers lament lost opportunity for natural gas riches with fracking ban
- Police: NYC cop killer invited people to watch shooting
- Coal mines near record low in worker deaths
- Veteran NBC newsman Brokaw says his cancer is in remission
- New York City subways slowly upgrading from 1930s-era technology
- IBM’s Watson supercomputing system to be applied to PTSD
- Arizona immigrants OK’d to apply for driver’s licenses
- Florida officer slain; 1 charged
- Nativity scene placed by Satanic display at Michigan Capitol