Ideology Aside, House and Senate Physically Out of Sync


Not everyone is concerned by the conflicting vacation schedules. Senate Democrats have not been able to bring much legislation to the floor anyway, said Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institute.

It is virtually impossible to reach any agreement that will be filibuster-proof in the Senate and also pass in the House because the two chambers are so far apart ideologically, he said.

"It's not as if there are all these other matters that with coordinated schedules would be getting passed," Mann said. "Everything is hanging on threats of the government shutting down and defaulting on the government debt."

But when it comes to raising the debt ceiling, the traditional legislative process of committee hearings, bill mark-ups and floor debate has been scrapped in favor of small, closed-door negotiations among the leadership.

"For the most part this is high-stakes, highly centralized negotiation," Mann said. "Frankly the full memberships aren't doing anything. This is all about a handful of people engaged in negotiations to deal with a default threat, and I don't think coordinated schedules would make it one bit easier to solve this problem."

Therefore, the scholars said, the out-of-sync schedules will have little effect on whether lawmakers reach a deficit reduction deal in time.

"It's an interesting thing to speculate and think about, but I don't think it's going to be the difference between them compromising and finding the solution or not," Theriault said.

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