It's not good when the Associated Press crafts the headline with the words "Congress flees DC to campaign."
Battle-weary members of Congress are coming soon to neighborhoods near you to press for re-election, more eager to campaign before angry constituents than compromise in Washington on tax cuts, child nutrition or a federal budget.Those angry voters need to press the politicians asking for their votes what they plan to do when they return for the lame duck session and how they intend to vote on those issues. They can only flee for so long.
Majority Democrats facing tough re-election fights rebelled in both chambers Wednesday against their leaders' decisions to call off controversial votes, pass a temporary bill to keep the government running and head home.
"The Senate should be more concerned about doing what's right for the country and less concerned about campaign season," said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
The measure to adjourn passed both chambers despite the protests. In the House, it passed by one vote — Speaker Nancy Pelosi's — after 39 Democrats joined Republicans in voting no.
It was a messy end to a session fraught with partisan warfare, and it's not over. Within days of the voters' verdict, the same crew — with a few newly elected faces — will reconvene to take up a hefty list of legislation deemed toxic in the unforgiving pre-election atmosphere. Democrats will still control both chambers during the "lame duck" session.
For now, lawmakers sick of stalemate are headed home to an angry electorate.
"All 100 senators want to get out of here and get back to their states," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is locked in a tough re-election fight against Republican Sharron Angle in Nevada.
That they preferred frustrated voters to each other says something about the heavy political lifting candidates of both parties face in the month remaining before Election Day.