Congressional Spring Break

Senate Democrats and Republicans announced during a Capitol Hill news conference, Thursday, April 6, 2006, they are close a compromise on immigration legislation. From left are Senate Majority Leader Bill First of Tenn., Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen.Robert Menendez, D-N.J. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook) AP Photo

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.




Well, here we go again. Another legislative deal -- this time it was an immigration bill -- collapsed.

But as Senators ran for the door and another two week vacation, they promised to try to work something out when they got back.

How many times on how many tough issues have we heard that?

What happened in the Senate last week wasn't about immigration, it was about what's gone wrong with Congress, which can't do much of anything anymore.

Here's the main reason: our elected officials have lost their ability to compromise.

In order to raise the money needed to GET elected, they have to sign off with so many special interest groups BEFORE they get to Washington that their positions are set in stone long before they arrive at the Capitol.

You don't get special interest money by promising to give their ideas a fair hearing and your best judgment. You get the money by promising to take their side come hell or high water.

So, most of the debate is just time-wasting talk. No one's mind is changed, Congress just nibbles around the edges of most issues and nothing of significance gets done.

Tomorrow millions of people across America will take to the streets to demand immigration reform, but don't expect Congress to do much on immigration. Don't expect it to do much on anything.

Our political system is so badly broken there is no longer very much that Congress CAN do.



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By Bob Schieffer
  • Patrick Kiker

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