BOSTON (State House News Service) – U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern aired his frustrations with Congress Tuesday, saying the current climate on Capitol Hill leaves little chance of major policy action until after new members take their seats following the fall elections.
“My guess is in November, all they’re going to want to do is pass the spending bills, and that’s it,” McGovern told reporters after speaking at a New England Council breakfast at the Hampshire House. “We’re not doing anything on climate change, we’re not doing anything on gun control, we’re not doing anything on increasing the minimum wage or expanding early childhood education or any number of things that I think are really important.”
Amidst what he described as “probably the craziest political season in my lifetime,” the 10-term Worcester Democrat said he didn’t expect to see “very much of substance from Congress in the next several months.”
“I think that’s a squandered opportunity,” McGovern said.
After last week’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, McGovern said he was particularly bothered to not see more progress on the issue of gun control.
On Monday, four gun control amendments — two sponsored by Democrats, and two sponsored by Republicans, who have a majority in both the Senate and the House — failed to pass the Senate.
McGovern singled out an amendment that would block people from purchasing guns if they are on a federal terror watch list.
“That the Senate couldn’t come together and pass that very modest, kind of tiny step in the direction of common sense, really is pathetic,” he said.
Had the Senate passed that measure, it was still “very unlikely” it would have been scheduled for a vote in the House, McGovern said.
“That’s kind of what’s wrong with the way Congress is running now,” he said. “We’ve become a place where trivial issues get debated passionately and important ones not at all.”
Acknowledging he has “no idea what’s going to happen” in the presidential contest that is on track to pit Democrat Hillary Clinton against Republican Donald Trump, McGovern said he hopes the congressional elections will bring about “kind of a shakeup in the membership.”
“If you’re going to run for Congress or run for state legislature, you need to go with the attitude that you want to get things done, not just block things,” McGovern told reporters. “I’m hoping that people who have been naysayers who can’t say yes to anything might not be coming back after November.”