Since falling under Republican control in 2010, the House of Representatives has faced greater and greater criticism for failing to pass any major legislation and focusing on purely symbolic and political votes, resulting in the least productive legislative year since World War II. Recently, a poll showed that only 12 percent of the American people approve of the current Congress, the lowest rating in years. In an op-ed published in USA Today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) points out that it didn’t have to be this way.
In 2006, after 12 years of GOP majorities, Democrats assumed control of the House and Senate. My colleagues in the House elected me to serve as speaker for the last two years of the Bush administration. No matter who occupied the Oval Office, Democrats in Congress knew we could not let partisan differences stand in the way of doing the work of the American people.
After the Republicans regained the House majority in 2010, I pledged in these pages that Democrats would work across the aisle on ‘solutions that reflect our priorities and address our nation’s challenges.’ Yet Republicans refused, instead obstructing every initiative proposed by the Obama administration despite the president’s efforts to cooperate.
Compare this record with the Democratic Congress of 2007-09. With the economy weakening and two wars underway, there were significant policy differences between Democrats and the Bush White House. But from Day One, Democrats focused on moving our nation forward. Rather than set up roadblocks, we worked across the aisle with President Bush and many Republican colleagues.
Though we never compromised principles, we did seek common ground to achieve results. From the start, we acted to strengthen workers by increasing the minimum wage for the first time in more than a decade. We worked with President Bush to jump-start our economy with recovery rebates for 130 million American families, even though Democrats preferred including investments to create jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges…
The Democratic House passed more than 230 key measures, with over 70% receiving bipartisan backing. By the end of 2008, in all, President Bush signed 460 laws passed by the Democratic Congress. Thus far, we can only say the same about 169 laws in the current Republican House.
The record is clear: The source of congressional inaction today is a Republican congressional leadership that cannot, or will not, govern; that will not put aside partisanship to work together.
The accomplishments of the Democratic Congress of 2007-09 demonstrate how Democrats worked with a Republican president to address serious issues despite partisan differences. It is a lesson not learned by the current Republican House leadership.
Click here to read the full op-ed.
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