Why Congress can’t manage to get anything done

Congress is a national embarrassment. Beset by gridlock and petty partisanship, it struggles to do even the simplest tasks. Just last week, for instance, the Senate was at a logjam over whether to approve Jim Bridenstine, President Trump’s selection to head NASA. His approval should have been a no-brainer, but not with our Congress, which can’t do anything easily.

The Founding Fathers designed the Constitution to place Congress at the center of the government. Congress was the branch most representative of the people — judges were to be appointed, and the president was to be chosen via the Electoral College.

We generally don’t think of our government that way anymore. The president is at the center of everyday American political life, and people often vote for members of Congress based on what kind of judges they’ll approve for the courts, which themselves have played a larger role in policy debates. And, of course, Congress is one big mess.

In the best-case scenario, Congress is only able to get big things done during the “honeymoon” phase of a new president — the first six months to a year of what usually turns out to be an eight-year term. Lately, Congress is struggling to spend money — something that has heretofore not been a problem for our profligate government.

These last-minute, omnibus continuing resolutions — passed right on the cusp of another government shutdown — are happening because Congress can’t seem to follow its own budgeting rules.

And now, in the age of Trump, even executive appointments are getting held up amid partisan gridlock in the Senate. Bridenstine’s case is hardly the most egregious.Democrats are set to vote overwhelmingly against confirming CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump’s selection to replace Rex Tillerson at the State Department.

This is despite the fact that he received bipartisan support last year when he was nominated for the CIA, and that the administration — and Pompeo personally — is in the middle of delicate negotiations with North Korea.

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