As Members of Congress head towards the exits, one of the most well-known and influential Representatives will be joining their ranks: John Dingell, Jr. At 87, Representative Dingell is not the oldest Member of Congress, but he is the longest-serving Member in history, having first entered in 1955. He was elected at age 29 in a special election to replace his father, John Dingell, Sr., who was elected in 1933, meaning that by the end of this Congress, the family will have held the seat for over 81 years. According to The Detroit News, the Congressman was unsure that he would remain healthy enough to finish another term. “I’m not going to be carried out feet first”, he said. Over the past few years, he has criticized the incivility and partisanship afflicting the Congress and also cited this as a reason for leaving.
Representative Dingell served as the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee from 1981 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2008, but lost the top spot to fellow Democrat Representative Henry Waxman in 2009.
President Barack Obama still has three years left in office, but he has had such poor relations with Congress that it is an open question as to whether they will be able to work together to produce any legislation. There are many reasons the President and Members of Congress do not have much of a rapport, including historical tensions between the branches that predate the current President’s election, but causes for division may also rest with the current office holders. Republicans, for instance, are hesitant to work with the President on immigration reform since they say they do not trust him to enforce laws against illegal immigrants. Likewise, many in Washington say that the President has failed to develop strong personal relations with lawmakers. On the other hand, some charge that the Republicans have either been unable or unwilling to accept the President’s offers for deals on legislation, such as a reform of the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment. With the President’s legacy on the line, will he be able to hammer out some agreements with the Congress?
The President and congressional Democrats have long wanted to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and have introduced legislation in the House to get the ball rolling. The bill, similar to a Senate version, has attracted 197 cosponsors, including even a few Republicans. However, despite the fact that this is an initiative supported by leadership, about a dozen Democrats have refused to cosponsor the bill. Some have declined because it eliminates the diversity visa program, which has sought to promote immigration from countries that have historically produced fewer immigrants to the United States. Other Democrats who have not signed onto the bill come from the more conservative wing of the party.
Over the weekend, the Mexican military captured Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the lead of one of the country’s most powerful and wealthiest drug gangs, the Sinaloa Cartel. The cartel’s activities have extended north into the United States and he has been charged with crimes in a number of U.S. jurisdictions. Following the arrest, the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul argued that the Obama Administration should demand that the drug lord be extradited to the United States. Guzman had been arrested previously, but broke out of a Mexican maximum-security prison in 2001.
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