A proselytizing Congress

Congress is back this week after a long vacation. Lawmakers face many pending issues that are important to Americans. However, let’s not get our hopes up that in 12 days, lawmakers will accomplish what they did not in a two-year session.

Yes, 12 days! That is how many days of legislative work are scheduled for the House of Representatives in the two months left before the November midterm election. The Senate has more workdays planned.

Both chambers have the mission of working together to approve before October a budget extension until mid-November—when, with the results of the election available, a more extensive spending plan can be negotiated.

This will be the only agreement that Democrats and Republicans in Congress are likely to seek and find. The rest will be a hurried demonstration of why this is one of the least productive legislative sessions in recent memory, in addition to being one of the House of Representatives’ shortest legislative calendar sessions in decades.

There could be repeat votes to show that Republicans are in favor of environmental deregulation, the building of the Keystone pipeline and limiting Obamacare, among others. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate could vote to raise minimum wage, fix health care coverage to include family planning and cut the debt.

The goal in both chambers is to mobilize the voter base, an understandable strategy at this time. The problem is that this has been an ongoing dynamic in the legislative session. Congress has become a pulpit for lawmakers to preach and denounce, instead of ironing out their differences in order to be able to move forward with negotiated bills that address the concerns of Americans. Apparently, lawmakers are in a permanent campaign—especially in the House of Representatives—with a mission not to legislate, but to highlight differences and contrasts to garner political favor. The word negotiation has been replaced by inflexibility.

Because of that, this Congress has the worst popularity in this institution’s history. Americans are frustrated with their lawmakers, who only focus on a small ideological sector instead of becoming national leaders in Washington who really work for everyone’s well-being.