Congress's well-deserved breather
With Congress in the first days of its summer recess this is a good time to evaluate the first seven months of the congressional session. On balance the record has been considerably better than many experts had forecast. Both President and Congress produced more cooperation than confrontation.
Much remains to be done in the fall session after Congress returns Sept. 12, with the most visible areas likely to be Central America and the economy. A principal challenge will be to avoid the temptation that historically grips members of both political parties as an election year nears: too often concentrating on finger-pointing and political posturing at the expense of the nation's needs. Today's times are too challenging to permit that luxury.
Yet at the same time it is as important as it is proper for Congress and the President to carry out their constitutional roles wherein each provides a check on the activities of the other. Both did this during the past seven months, with Congress nudging the Reagan administration toward increasing effort in arms control by tying approval of the MX missile to administration willingness to pursue arms control vigorously and flexibly.
The President, for his part, repeatedly warned Congress not to bust the budget. Thus far his veto threats have not been carried out, in part because congressional committees have reduced the amount of money in appropriation bills to finance specific projects.
One of the best examples of cooperation came early this year when the President, Republican-led Senate, and Democrat-dominated House agreed upon a measure to improve the finances of the social security system. Later they compromised and established a $4.6 billion federal jobs program.
When Congress resumes, one of the most difficult issues will likely be the US role in Central America. The House of Representatives recently indicated its views by voting to cut off covert US aid to guerrillas in Nicaragua. This fall there is sure to be much debate when the administration seeks funds to finance US activities in the region. Another focus of attention is the budget, as Congress tries to enforce the budget plan it earlier approved despite presidential protests
It is imperative that on these volatile issues all parties keep uppermost the national needs, and work in an atmosphere of cooperation and anticipated solution. The nation cannot afford a return to politics as usual.