Many political spectators and analysts alike would agree that the climate in Washington has been the most volatile in decades. But what is interesting to note is that many outside of the political sphere have been forced to take notice as well.
The country is now seeing a direct link between the daily operations and the conduct of Congress, and it isn't nearly as productive as many would hope. In the latest fray in Washington, residents affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are waiting on baited breath for the outcome of a government relief package.
But after the fiscal cliff vote passed in the House, Speaker of the House John Boehner pulled the consideration of the bill that would send $60.4 billion in aid to these states. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and many other Republicans lambasted the move as putting "palace intrigue" ahead of their responsibilities as representatives.
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Calling it "disappointing and disgusting to watch," Christie blamed "the toxic internal politics of the House majority" for the inaction in the nation's capitol. Christie chastised politicians for their willingness to "say whatever they have to say to get through the day."
Christie reserved his most caustic remarks for Boehner, calling him selfish, duplicitous and gutless before pulling his support for the bill before the current Congress adjourned. It was only after outrage continued to pour in from elected officials from both sides that Boehner agreed to hold a vote Friday for only the the National Flood Insurance Program. On Jan. 15, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House is expected to put up a bill for the the remaining $51 billion in aid.
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Lawmakers spoke with Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker John Boehner to figure out how to get billions in aid passed in the next Congress. The $60.4 billion aid package put forward by the White House already passed in the Senate. But Boehner's late night walked off the floor Tuesday signaling not only a stalled cooperation with the White House and Congress, but internally within the House.
What does that mean for the country? Many do not know. Some DC veterans have weighed in on the political consequences, speculating on the future of the speakership, the unification of the Republican party and the functionality of the House as a whole. But most are certain that this is not a good sign for the country.
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Boehner may have avoided a complete backlash from his party by holding a meeting with ranking House leaders and representatives from New York and New Jersey who felt they had been ignored during the entire process.
The Hill gave two theories for Boehner's decision to pull the aid bill from consideration. One was that he sought to punish Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who had personally shepherded the Sandy legislation, for voting against the final fiscal cliff deal.
Another theory was that, because House Republicans were already upset for relenting on tax cuts and spending in the cliff deal, Boehner decided not to hold another bill requiring more spending from the federal government. Both theories are strikingly political and lack consideration of the current plight of Americans.
Keeping in step with the climate in Washington, politicians decided to"'kick the can" in terms of handling the aid bill. "Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations," Boehner said in a joint statement with Cantor.
The cantankerous nature of Congress is casting a cloud over the future of politics and the incoming newly elected members. "They are so consumed with their own internal politics that they have forgotten that they have a job to do," noted Gov. Christie. The fiscal cliff debate already left a bad taste in people's mouths and the next coming months, along with the expected political battles that have a direct impact on American families, will tell whether or not the political culture will continue to work against the functionality of this country.
Born and raised in Detroit, MI, Jasmine has been working with Gavel Media since her sophomore year. She is a part of the class of 2013 and is a Political Science and Islamic Civilizations & Societies major. Follow on Twitter @j00ma.