The first Democratic-led Congress in a dozen years limped out of Washington last night with a lengthy list of accomplishments, from the first increase in fuel-efficiency standards in a generation to the first minimum-wage hike in a decade.
But Democrats’ failure to address the central issues that swept them to power left even the most partisan of them dissatisfied and Congress mired at a historic low in public esteem.
Handed control of Congress last year after making promises to end the war in Iraq, restore fiscal discipline in Washington and check President Bush’s powers, Democrats instead closed the first session of the 110th Congress yesterday with House votes that sent Bush $70 billion in war funding, with no strings attached, and a $50 billion alternative-minimum-tax measure that shattered their pledge not to add to the federal budget deficit.
Some senior Democrats have grown so distraught that they do not expect any significant change in Iraq policy unless a Democrat wins the White House in 2008. “It’s unfortunate that we may have to wait till the elections,” said Sen. Ted Kennedy yesterday.