Even the most hidebound lawmaker wouldn't want the alternative, said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.
"Do people want to slog through four more years of dysfunction?" Welch asked. "I think even members of Congress have their limits."
Said Rooney: "It would be nice to get something accomplished in the 112th" session of Congress.
Over the past two years, the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate struggled for consensus on what had been easy in previous years, such as legislation to fund transportation projects. Just over 173 bills became law, far less than the 383 in Obama's first two years, when Democrats held Congress, and less than the 460 in the last two years of Republican Bush's second term with a Democratic Congress.
Lack of activity isn't the only reason for the lower production. House Republicans eliminated plenty of feel-good resolutions and measures such as those honoring sports teams.
Based on days worked, Congress has been in session 287 days, compared with 286 in Obama's first two years. Lawmakers are expected to return Nov. 13 for several weeks of work.
The to-do list is long in addition to the expiring tax cuts and the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts of about $110 billion that kick in Jan. 2 to defense and domestic programs.
Congress much deal with the five-year farm and nutrition bill, which sets policy for farm safety net programs and funds the food stamp program. Also unresolved are a defense policy bill, cybersecurity legislation and legislation to lift Cold War trade restrictions on Russia, now a member of the World Trade Organization.
But for all the possibility of clarity and compromise in the lame-duck session, the bitterness is still prevalent. House Republicans point to the numerous bills that went nowhere in the Senate.
"Look at how many bills this House has passed over to the Senate that are critically important to this country only to see them languish in complete ignominy by the Senate," said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. "For them to suggest it's a do-nothing Congress is a fundamental indictment of the Democrat leadership in the Senate. ... The Senate is where things go to die in this environment."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., blamed Senate Republicans for filibustering legislation. He said it was difficult to accomplish anything when the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had said his goal was to make Obama a one-term president.
The choice, Durbin said, rests with the voters.
"Decide what you want," Durbin said on the Senate floor Friday. "Decide if you want to send Democrats and Republicans to this Capitol with an awesome responsibility and also with a spirit of consensus and cooperation."
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