Three months into the new year the 114th Congress looks an awful lot like the 113th. Going into the Easter recess the newly elected GOP-controlled Congress passed a grand total of SEVEN new laws. In fairness, President Obama did veto two bills this year, so let's call it nine new laws in three months, which puts 2015 on track to become a record-setter for congressional gridlock.
Last November, after republicans trounced his party re-taking the U.S. Senate, Fox19 Now asked Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown if he was optimistic about ending gridlock in Washington. He told Fox19 Now he was hopeful democrats would be able to work with the new republican leadership. Last week, after the two sides couldn't agree to pass a human trafficking bill that would have aided victims everywhere (including here in the Tri-State) Fox19 Now asked Brown the same question. He didn't sound too optimistic.
"I heard Mitch McConnell on election night in Louisville or Frankfort talking about what he wanted to do," said Brown referring to McConnell's victory speech. "Look, we do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree. I think we have a duty to do that."
Brown goes on to tell Fox19 Now: "I was hoping (McConnell) go back and look at what Congress has done in a bi-partisan way over the last 30 years. Let's go back and continue some of those things.”
In defense of the Senate Majority Leader, the inability of lawmakers to pass laws isn't limited to republican leadership. The 112th and 113th Congresses, each with a democratically controlled Senate, are statistically considered the two worst congressional sessions in history. Just how bad has Congress become at passing laws? Since the early 80's, during President Ronald Reagan's tenure, the number of bills passed into law has seen a steady and dramatic drop off.
Fox19 Now reached out to Senator McConnell and asked whether he's confident the 114th Congress can put an end to gridlock. His team responding in the form of a lengthy response which can be found below. Meanwhile, big issues remain unresolved for the 114th Congress including another potential government shutdown.
Here is Sen. Mitch McConnell's response:
"The trafficking bill IS bipartisan and the only thing holding up the Lynch vote is the Democrats filibuster of the bill. The human trafficking bill has a dozen Democratic cosponsors, unanimous support in committee. Sadly, Sen. Brown and Democrats are filibustering this bipartisan legislation that would protect kids from being sold into sex slavery. Once we complete that bill, the next vote in line is on the Lynch nomination. So we hope Senator Brown will drop his filibuster of this bipartisan bill and urge his Democrat colleagues to do the same.
The Senate also recently passed the Fiscal Year 2016 budget that balances within 10 years and does so without raising taxes. Senator McConnell's statement on the budget is here.
The budget resolution also included Senator McConnell's amendment to fight the war on coal. Senator McConnell's amendment passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 57-43.
When the Senate goes back in session next week, the Senate will also likely be dealing with the Iran Sanctions issue… here is a statement Sen. McConnell made on the issue yesterday.