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The Song-and-Dance Congress

Congress went home last week, congratulating itself for finally agreeing - seven weeks late - on a budget to run the government during the fiscal year that began last month, reports CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer in his weekly commentary on Face the Nation.

If you thought that's not much to write home about, you'd be right. But there's a reason that's what congressional leaders were talking about.

Having to deal first with impeachment left this Congress in a foul partisan humor and it never really got on track. A session heavy on gimmicks, Republicans hired a fife and drum unit to march around the Capitol to herald their big tax cut plan. Cutting taxes was the Republicans' number one goal, but like so many things this Congress tried, it went nowhere. The President vetoed the plan just as Republicans knew he would.

Democrats fared no better, in a session where so many lobbyists sometimes bunched around the Capitol that police had to be called in to direct traffic. But in issue after issue, from gun control to overhauling campaign finance laws to reforming HMOs and giving seniors access to prescription drugs, polls showed the public wanted action. But Congress, feeling the hot breath of the lobby, couldn't find a way to act.

If nothing else, it did remain a Congress with a strong commitment to music. Republican leaders had a bagpiper lead them into the final news conference where they announced they had completed work on the budget. Just why they did that is not all together clear.

Still, it's probably a safe bet this Congress won't be remembered for its music. More likely this one will go into the history books as the Congress that killed a nuclear test ban treaty most of the world wanted...but couldn't figure out how to do much else.

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