One of the world’s great legislative bodies, opened for business Tuesday. The 114th Congress is underway. It was a jovial day full of a lot of ceremony and little pomp. Members of Congress had their families in tow and there was glad-handing and backslapping a plenty. Remember this moment, it will be the last we’ll see in some time.
Congress, as if we didn’t know it, is in trouble. According to Gallup, only 15 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job. Such low numbers have only occurred twice, in 1979 and 1992. Those approval numbers are nonpartisan. Both Republicans and Democrats polled gave the same approval statistics.
But there is hope. The midterm elections brought a number of new, fresh faces to Washington, D.C., and while they are still figuring out where the bathrooms are, they will face a ton of tough challenges from immigration to approving a new attorney general to dissecting President Obama’s plan to open relations with Cuba -- not to mention our debt and another revisit of Obamacare.
Georgia, in particular, has a number of rookies. In the House, the state lost Jack Kingston, Paul Broun, John Barrow and Phil Gingrey, all, except Barrow brought down by Senate ambitions. They were replaced by Buddy Carter, Jodi Hice, Barry Loudermilk and Rick Allen -- all Republicans. Only four Democrats represent the state out of 14 seats in the House -- Sanford Bishop Jr., Hank Johnson, John Lewis and David Scott. On the Senate side, David Perdue joins Johnny Isakson after the retirement of Saxby Chambliss.
Both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans and we hope the legislative bodies can shed the “do nothing” label. However, that’s unlikely. Though we just came through an election cycle, the race for the presidency in 2016 will be on the minds of the lawmakers as the jockey for position. But the mood of the American people may spark some activity.
As they did in the last midterm, the electorate, if they see another “do nothing” Congress, could flip again (10 Democratic and 24 Republican seats in the Senate will be up for re-election in 2016).
It is imperative lawmakers compromise and get something done rather than roadblock. Even with the change in leadership, the majority party still needs the minority party to get any real work done. The word “compromise” has been out of Congress’ vocabulary for so long, it might take a few more years before they learn to spell it again.