Gridlock in Washington

Is Congress too polarized to act?


Historic health-care legislation was enacted this spring, but the slow crawl of the law through the Senate suggests to many observers that Washington is in a state of gridlock — nearly unable to make new policy. Some political scientists blame the increasingly fierce competition for power between the ideologically rigid Democratic and Republican parties, which has risen to levels not seen since the Civil War. Other analysts blame the Senate's cloture rule, which requires a 60-vote supermajority to end a filibuster and proceed to voting. The rule gives undue, perhaps even unconstitutional, power to the minority, its critics argue. But other scholars maintain that the eventual passage of the health-care law is proof that Washington is not paralyzed. Indeed, they say a more serious problem ...

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