Tags: Senate | Mitch McConnell | Orrin Hatch | human trafficking

Under McConnell's Leadership, Senate Finally Gets Its Work Done

Under McConnell's Leadership, Senate Finally Gets Its Work Done
(Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 23 April 2015 03:50 PM

By unanimously passing a bill on Wednesday to toughen anti-human trafficking penalties, the Senate paved the way forward on a confirmation vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch and provided further evidence that Congress may be back to functioning as a legislative body.

"Tonight’s Committee action marks a pivotal moment for international trade policy and reflects years of true bipartisan work," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch on Wednesday after the panel acted on trade promotion authority and other trade bills.

"Our work is not yet done. We need to continue with our bipartisan efforts and work to push these measures through the Congress and enacted into law," he added in a written statement.

The agreement reached on the trade bills mark the latest sign that the obstructionism and animosity that were the hallmark of Senate under the leadership of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid are becoming a thing of the past.

"The dysfunctional Congress finally appears to be working again as the Founders intended. Lawmakers are negotiating, voting on bills and actually passing legislation," says Karl Rove, former chief of staff to George W. Bush, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

"After years of dysfunction, the House and the Senate are finally acting as the Constitution prescribes. The process is ragged, sometimes ugly, rarely fast and never completely satisfactory. Congress may not become popular. But it is at least functioning and thus more likely to produce real answers to the country’s challenges," he concluded.

When Sen. Mitch McConnell began his term as leader by pledging to return to days when compromise was more common.

“The only way 100 senators will truly be able to have their say, the only way we’ll be able to work through our tensions and disputes, is if we’re here more. Some of us have been around long enough to remember when Thursday night was the main event. We worked late, sometimes well into the morning. And it worked," the Kentucky senator said shortly after the Republicans swept Democrats out of power in the Senate, according to The Hill.

The changes McConnell implemented in his role as Senate majority leader at the start of the 114th Congress have contributed to the recent flurry of bills passing through both chambers.

"The first sign that things might be changing was just after last November's election, when a government shutdown was avoided without the pyrotechnics seen in the recent past. More recently, with the deal on the Medicare 'doc fix' and extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, the House and Senate passing budget resolutions and the confirmation of a federal judge, things seem like they are starting to move," observed the National Journal's Charlie Cook.

Congress, which used to be defined by three-day work weeks and few legislative accomplishments, has shown signs of progress, according to a new study released by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).

The study estimates that in the first quarter of 2015, Congress has worked more days than at the same point in the previous two Congresses, and in the first three months, congressional committees have moved bills in higher numbers than in the past, according to the BPC's "Healthy Congress Index."

While it is too early to judge whether the era of cooperation continues, it is already clear that the new environment in the Senate is welcomed by senators on both sides of the aisle.

“The way the Senate is being run is very popular with a significant number of Democrats, who have come over to me frequently and say thank you. We’ve given them an opportunity, and they’ve taken that opportunity," said McConnell this week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Politics
By unanimously passing a bill on Wednesday to toughen anti-human trafficking penalties, the Senate paved the way forward on a confirmation vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch and provided further evidence that Congress may be back functioning.
Senate, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, human trafficking
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2015-50-23
Thursday, 23 April 2015 03:50 PM
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