In Congress, it’s still party all the time

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.

In Congress, it’s still party all the time

First impressions suggest the Republicans in control of Congress aren’t ready to put aside partisanship and govern if it means making peace with President Obama, who is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders at the White House.

In a resounding rebuke of House Speaker John Boehner’s past willingness to compromise with the president, 24 Republicans voted against his reelection last week.

Due to a number of absences, Boehner (R., Ohio) didn’t need their votes.

Still, it marked only the fourth time since 1913 that a speaker was elected without a majority of the full House.

In another signal that Congress and the president are likely to keep fighting, House Republicans announced that their first goal would be to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama promised to veto.

Congress’ persistence on the issue ignores gas prices, which have been plummeting even without the additional access to Canadian tar-sands oil that the pipeline would provide.

The southern leg of the pipeline was finished last year and is providing U.S. oil producers improved access to Gulf Coast refineries.

Finishing the northern end of the pipeline, which Republican House members have made a cause célèbre, would help Canadian oil companies more than American ones.

But the state of politics is such that members of Congress care more about symbolic victories than common ground on issues such as rebuilding the country’s deteriorating infrastructure, which would create many more jobs than building the pipeline.

Despite the unsuccessful revolt against him, or maybe because of it, Boehner stayed on message in supporting Keystone XL.

The Senate, now also under Republican control for the first time since 2006, may remain the best hope for bipartisanship.

It helps that the new majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), says he wants to prove that Republicans can govern.

Congress welcomed 58 new House members and 13 new senators last week.

It may not take long to tell whether they will become part of another

“do-nothing” Congress.

With Obama threatening vetoes, GOP House members are already counting override votes.

If Americans see more of the same from Congress, members of both parties can expect to pay for it at the polls.

That’s less likely to happen if McConnell and Boehner refuse to be pushed around by the latest wave of hard-line conservatives.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.

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