Senators Landrieu and Enzi
April 30, 1997
in this forum:
Is the pace of the Senate right? Should the Senate have signed the Chemical Weapons Treaty? Is Congress addressing the big issues? What about America's poor? SEN. LANDRIEU: What is the status of the investigation into your election? SEN. ENZI: What does it mean to be the "Cyber Senator"?
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A question from David Copley of Philadelphia, PA:
The Senate's work
Last Session of Congress the Senate was known as the slow plodding house which could not pass any of the Contract or at least could not pass it very quickly. Do you think the institution got a fair shake? Are you comfortable with the pace of the work being done in the Senate?
Senator Enzi responds:
The legislative records set by the 104th Congress served notice on the Administration that Congress will not wait for the President to set the agenda as in past years. One of the reasons the Senate did not pass portions of the Contract with America is that the Senate is a more deliberative body compared to the House of Representatives. The Senate gives each Senator of the minority maximum opportunity to be heard. Holds and filibusters assure very piece of legislation full and thorough consideration in committees and on the floor.
The 105th Congress is more determined to let legislation take its course through the committee process and allow members the opportunity to fully examine the impacts of legislation. The 105th Congress is also determined to have the President be part of the early decision/position process rather than just taking credit for favorable results while blasting the leadership of the Republicans for any perceived difficulties. Although the process may seem cumbersome, it ensures that legislation is drafted correctly and fully takes into consideration all public concerns. The process gives members time to craft quality legislation.
With the exception of the 104th Congress, legislation is going through the process every bit as quickly as any other non-wartime Congress where the Presidency is held by a different party from the Congress majority.
Thank you for contacting me about this issue.
Senator Landrieu responds:
Since I am a freshman, I will decline to comment on the work done by my colleagues before I arrived. It was clear though, that last year the Republicans preferred confrontation to compromise. Unfortunately, that same trend has re-emerged in this Congress. The problem is that with the rules and structure of the Senate, when one party chooses conflict over cooperation, we achieve nothing but gridlock.
I recently read that the public gives politicians credit for taking positions. We ought to get credit for solving problems. The Senate's problem now is not the pace at which legislation is being considered, it is that we are not considering much legislation at all. By taking such intransigent positions, the Republicans have prevented the sort of compromise that would allow us to address this country's problems.