Seems like Mz Pelosi is already playing the "It's not my fault." card.........
(06-30) 04:00 PDT Washington -- The problem for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't just President Bush. It's the Senate.
Pelosi sounded more apologetic than celebratory Friday when she announced with her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats' list of accomplishments six months after they seized control of Capitol Hill and promised "a new direction" in Washington.
"I'm not happy with Congress, either," Pelosi, of San Francisco, conceded.
She pinned the blame on "the obstructionism of the Republicans in the United States Senate."
Immigration has joined Iraq, stem cell research, Medicare drug pricing, the 9/11 Commission's recommendations and other promises in the dustbin of the current Congress. Heading into a July Fourth recess after a bruising failure on immigration, Congress has a public approval rating in the mid-20s, lower than Bush's and no better than Republicans' ratings on the eve of their catastrophic election defeat in November, when the GOP lost control of the Senate and the House.
So little has been achieved that Reid threatened to hold the Senate in session during the August recess, the congressional equivalent of torture.
Pelosi acknowledged the rock-bottom poll numbers but argued that Congress has "never been popular." Just six months into her speakership, she was postponing many of her hopes to 2009, saying a new president could change things -- presumably assuming it wouldn't be a Republican.
"Congress is a big institution to turn around," she said. "A new president comes in, and he or she is given every opportunity, because we -- everybody wants the new president to succeed. A Congress comes in, and it's Congress. It's an institution that has not been popular."
At which point, Reid interjected, "Nancy, honestly, one other thing. Let's be realistic about this. The war in Iraq is dragging down people's confidence in what's going on in this country."
The war also is dragging down Democrats' popularity, especially among the party's liberal base, as well as public confidence that Pelosi's promises on the election night in which she was swept to power -- "to restore stability and bipartisanship" in Washington and to change course in Iraq -- would happen anytime soon.
Democrats, who once infuriated Republicans by using the extraordinary power of the Senate minority to block action, are feeling the brunt of an institutional constraint that is little understood by the public. No case was clearer than Iraq, where Democrats spent most of their first months in power confronting Bush by attaching withdrawal conditions to war funding, only to back down in the end after a veto confrontation.
"The Republicans are doing what the Democrats did," said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs scholar at Boston University. "They're using the power of the Senate filibuster, and the power in the House when you have narrow majorities, to make a do-nothing Congress -- even when there's a lot of issues on the table, even when there's a lot of interest in accomplishing things."
The Democrats in their years in the minority made a filibuster-proof 60-vote supermajority -- rather than a 51-vote simple majority -- the threshold needed to pass any legislation in the Senate. Democrats routinely blocked all but the most noncontroversial bills. They created a Senate crisis in 2005 by filibustering Bush's judicial nominees, provoking Republican leaders to threaten to do away with the filibuster. That showdown was averted only by the intervention of a dozen moderates in both parties.
Republicans complained at the time, but many of them are happy now. They are wielding the filibuster weapon freely in a Senate where Democrats hold 49 seats and where their majority comes from the support of two senators who are independents. And one of the Democrats, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, has been sidelined for months by a stroke.
Pelosi has more leeway in the House, with a 232-to-201 majority, but even that is vulnerable to factions splitting off on the right or left -- a constant threat during the spring confrontations on Iraq. The House majority can exert tight leadership control over procedure to get bills passed on party-line votes. Yet, even so, House legislation continues to die in the Senate. The latest instance was a move Thursday night by Senate Republicans to block a lobbying and ethics reform bill from even proceeding to a House-Senate conference committee.
"It's becoming very concerning to many of us that we've got a 49-49 stalemate in the Senate, and we are beginning to look to the American people like we're ineffective," said one California House Democrat who did not want to speak for attribution. "No matter what we do on the House side, we can't get things through the Senate."
To be sure, Democrats have passed a minimum-wage increase and a budget. But they are far short in either body of the two-thirds majorities they need to overcome a slew of Bush veto threats in looming battles over spending and taxes.
House Republican leaders crowed Friday about "a string of broken promises" by Democrats. The same Republicans who had let spending earmarks for members' pet projects spin completely out of control during their reign are now making their stand on earmark reform -- their stated reason for blocking the lobbying bill.
Some Republicans, however, are not so sure that waging partisan battles while waiting for the next election is necessarily a recipe for success.
Big problems such as immigration, health care and the war require bipartisanship.
"To my friends on this side, if you think you can ignore Democrats, good luck," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told the Senate just before the immigration bill crashed Thursday. "They exist. There's a bunch of them over there. Raise your hand if you're a Democrat. Why don't y'all leave?"
The Democrats smiled, and Graham said, "They're not going away. Now, there's a bunch of us over here. Good luck ignoring us. ... We're at 20 percent (in the polls), and we deserve it. ... I can't believe there's 20 percent of the American people that like what were doing up here, because we're doing nothing but talking about what we won't do."
Even Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., a crafty former majority leader now second in the GOP command and a master of partisan Senate politics, expressed frustration.
"Do we have the courage, tenacity and the ability to get anything done anymore?" Lott asked during the immigration fight. "If we cannot do this, we ought to vote to dissolve the Congress and go home and wait for the next election."
Pelosi's only hope is a break in Republican unity, Boston University scholar Zelizer said. That happened, ironically, with the failed immigration bill, when Republicans abandoned Bush, even if it was to vote against Democrats. And earlier this week, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, sharply broke from the White House on the Iraq war, followed by Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
"On immigration, Republicans couldn't all get on the same page," Zelizer said. "There were acts of defiance against the president and against the party leaders. That's a precedent for the next vote."
Lugar's break from Bush on Iraq indicates "a private rebellion that's becoming public," Zelizer said. "It's another sign that the Republican discipline ... is starting to fade. What Bush wants with the war and immigration is very different from what congressional Republicans think is in their interest in 2008, so that's a big opportunity, and Pelosi can take advantage of it."
It's always somebody elses fault isn't it.....