By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Mississippi’s congressional leaders predict a more bipartisan tone in Washington next term despite the same political dynamic, as decided in Tuesday’s election.
U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, all R-Miss., said voters want to see Republicans and Democrats work together to solve the nation’s most pressing issues.
“First of all, we have to recognize we have a divided government, and the elections put an exclamation point behind that,” Cochran told the Daily Journal on Wednesday. “We’re going to have to work together. One-party control is not possible over the next two years.”
American voters this week preserved the status quo – a Democratic White House, Democratic U.S. Senate and Republican U.S. House – which during the past two years has produced one of the worst political gridlocks in recent history.
In the meantime, the average citizen has wrestled with a slumping economy, growing health care costs and high unemployment while watching the national deficit soar to some $16 trillion.
Nunnelee said voters deserve representatives who solve these issues without screaming at each other, and he hopes for a better record of progress in the next two-year term. But he also sees a “healthy tension” in a divided federal government.
“I do think the role of the conservative House of Representatives is to continue to stop the liberal agenda that has advanced the first two years of this administration,” Nunnelee said Wednesday. “We won’t have expansion of Obamacare, another failed stimulus or another Cash for Clunkers as long as there is a conservative House of Representatives.”
Nunnelee also said it’s now unlikely the next Congress will repeal Obamacare – officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. States like Mississippi that have been reluctant to implement portions of the act have little choice now but to do so, he said.
The big bipartisan test will come soon enough. Congress and President Barack Obama must address the so-called “fiscal cliff” that’s set to cut spending and raise taxes at midnight on Dec. 31. Experts have warned the cliff could tip the country’s already fragile economy into another recession, but a compromise thus far has been elusive.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Wednesday “indicated a willingness to listen to reason and to compromise and to put revenue on the table – revenue that results from tax reform,” Wicker told the Daily Journal. “That’s a hopeful sign and should be a signal, I think, to the leadership of the Senate that it’s important to sit down. That will be a test and a signal for how the full two-year term is treated.”