Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Congress Tries to Clean Up its Act – Colorado Springs Gazette, Megan Schrader, 3-14-14

There’s a new sentiment in Congress to lighten up their image, both individually and collectively. Several Colorado congresspersons have donated their salary increases to charity to little attention. But more visibility they are trying to get something done after half a decade of gridlock.

The new spurt of cooperation is partially a reflection that the lame duck administration is done with significant initiatives; hence, Congress, and especially Republicans, can stop taking purely partisan positions. But, it also reflects that members and leaders recognize the voter mood is so hostile, they all could be tossed out.

Quotation from the Gazette:
“It simply did not become a national story,” Ciruli said. “There is so much wrong with Washington in terms of most people's view that this is a rather small irritant.”
With elections coming in November for all but one member of congress - Sen. Michael Bennet - Ciruli said he’d be surprised if the pay issue is used for or against incumbents during campaign ads and literature.
“I suspect at this point it’s almost a matter of personal preference and affordability rather than really playing defense,” Ciruli said.
Since the shutdown, the approval rating for Congress has slowly been improving, but Ciruli said it's still abysmally low.
“What that raises is the question of whether or not all incumbents are going to be in danger this year,” Ciruli said. “Normally we could look for a partisan advantage, and this time we're beginning to wonder if there is an incumbent disadvantage.”
But Ciruli noted Congress has been working steadily since the shutdown to improve its image.
The first real budget in five years was passed in December, a bipartisan coalition pushed through the first Farm Bill - funding for food stamps and other critical programs - in almost as many years and there wasn't an ugly fight over the debt ceiling increase in January.
Ciruli said Washington, D.C. politicians might be trying to “shave off the worst of the rough edges” heading into elections.

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