"There is an increasing level of angst and fear across the electorate," Rigell said in a telephone interview. "The question is what direction do we go with that? Do we become increasingly apart, isolating ourselves into two distinct groups that don't talk to each other? Or do we use that tension to re-engage?"
In Case You Missed It:
By: Bill Bartel
July 13, 2013
Most American voters don't think one party is responsible for the congressional gridlock that has stalled federal budget talks and most other major legislation, according to a poll released Friday.
They blame both Republicans and Democrats.
More than six of every 10 people said lawmakers from both parties are equally implicated in Washington's ideological stalemate, according to a survey of registered voters by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
About one in four said Republicans are the problem, while 10 percent blamed Democrats.
That sentiment was consistent regardless of a voter's age, gender, income, level of education, or connection to the military.
U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, who has chided others in his party for blocking budget negotiations between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, acknowledged the public's views ring true.
"There is an increasing level of angst and fear across the electorate," he said in telephone interview. "The question is what direction do we go with that? Do we become increasingly apart, isolating ourselves into two distinct groups that don't talk to each other? Or do we use that tension to re-engage?"
Rigell does blame Democrats for what he considers unfair attacks portraying Republicans as uncaring about the public's welfare.
In the short term, those polled didn't seem to see an end to the stalemate. During telephone interviews conducted by Quinnipiac between June 28 and July 8, they predicted the feuding in Congress would prevent passage of a major overhaul of immigration policies now under consideration.
Almost 70 percent of those polled - regardless of political affiliation - said the two parties won't be able to work together to reach a compromise on immigration.
The survey of 2,014 registered voters, using both land-line phones and cellphones, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
In addition to Rigell, several legislators who represent Hampton Roads have voiced similar disdain for the absence of compromise.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat, said the root of the problem is the far-right wing of the House Republican majority who prevent floor votes on any bill unless the GOP majority favors it. That means no compromise bill can ever come to the floor, Scott said.
If House Speaker John Boehner, who schedules votes, goes against the more conservative Republicans, he will lose his leadership spot, Scott said. "So, Boehner's challenge is to decide whether he wants to keep his seat, or whether he wants to govern."
Voters said they also had a problem with the government's top Democrat - President Barack Obama.
Just over half of those polled said Obama wasn't doing enough to compromise with Republicans on important issues. About one in three said the president is doing the right amount and one in 10 said he's giving the GOP too much.
The survey found voters had similar - but stronger - views about Republicans. Sixty-eight percent said GOP lawmakers weren't doing enough to find common ground.
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both of Virginia, are part of a group of Democratic senators who have repeatedly urged Republicans to end a 3-month-old blockade of budget talks with the House.
"While it may be great late-night fodder for comedians about Congress' inability to act, at some point this dysfunction erodes the underlying confidence that the American people have in our institutions," Warner said Thursday in a Senate floor speech.
Legislators on both sides have acknowledged that it's unlikely a budget bill will be approved by the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1. They also assume the second year of automatic budget cuts - including tens of billions in defense cuts - will begin in January.
Rigell said ending the stalemate will require lawmakers of both parties to show political courage by pressing their leadership to search for common ground. He believes voters will support them if they do.
"We are not governing a junior class at a high school....This is serious business."