The 2010 midterm elections will leave the United States House of Representatives controlled by Republicans and the United States Senate controlled by Democrats. It is unusual for one House of Congress to be controlled by one party while the other House is controlled by the other party — and it will give American voters a real opportunity to do some comparison shopping.
We should be able to compare how each party runs their House during the same political environment. Which issues will get the most attention in the House, and which in the Senate? Will there be significant differences in their focus? Will they respond to the inevitable crises in different ways? How will they conduct their affairs and discharge their duties? Will robust debate and floor amendments be permitted by the rules in one House, but not in the other? Will congressional hearings and fact-finding really address the nuts and bolts of issues, or will it be used for grandstanding? Will members of the minority party be treated with decency and respect and be given a chance to meaningfully participate? Will the legislators roll up their sleeves and discharge their constitutional obligation to do things like establish budgets and pass appropriations bills?
I, for one, would like to see Members of Congress stop trying to become media celebrities and instead focus on doing their jobs — so that Congress actually will fulfill its constitutional legislative role in a meaningful way. During the next two years of a Congress divided, we will see, from their actions, how the Senate Democrats and House Republicans actually attempt to govern. That is a lot more instructive than listening to the latest set of talking points.