April 9th, 2013
09:06 AM ET

Congress: Better than it seems?

By Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @LisaDCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Washington (CNN) – Gun legislation is locked in negotiations behind-closed-doors. As is immigration reform. The most frequent public activity for Republicans and Democrats in Congress remains criticizing each other.

And yet, there is a chance that Congress may be slowly getting more done, or at least avoiding gridlock, than in the past few years.

[2:18] “I think they finally recognize that it was unacceptable. That the partisan divide was so great it impeded progress.”

– Olympia Snowe, former Republican Senator and current chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform.

CNN looked through the past three months of votes in the House and Senate and discovered that of the major measures that received final votes, many passed with substantial bipartisan support in both chambers. What Snowe and others hope is a sign (if a modest one) of progress, others see as simple maneuvering.

[2:51] “Very little of what goes on will result in a policy change or a policy. Instead, it’s positioning. It’s spin. It’s just trying to make people think you’re doing something when you’re not really accomplishing much at all.”

– Stan Collender, Qorvis National Director of Financial Communications and former staff member of both House and Senate Budget Committees.

To hear more, including specifics on the votes that may signal a shift in Congress, listen to our story above. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. KayKay

    Gun Control is like asuckAssn()gger.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nicholas Smith

    A few notes on Gun Background Checks.

    A Russian Officer once said that, "...The only reason we didn't attack you was that you can't get two Americans to agree on anything, and you're all heavily armed."

    Gun Background Checks would probably be acceptable to the anti-gun control folks if it could be guaranteed that the weapon serial numbers are not included in the Gun Background Checks.

    What is a "Gun Background Check?" A Gun Background Check is a request for buyer personal history information from the gun dealer to the law enforcement agency of the Federal Government Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The purchaser and dealer complete a Federal Form 4473, and NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). If the person wanting to buy the gun is cleared by the ATF then the gun dealer is by law allowed to sell them the gun.

    The problem for anti-gun control folks is that the Gun Background Check is tied to the serial number of the gun, and the anti-gun control folks believe that the government cannot have that information that they consider a violation of their 2nd Amendment Rights.

    This is worth repeating.

    Make no mistake, Gun Background Checks are de facto Gun Registration. The dealer keeps the Gun Background Check Forms, but the gun serial numbers are forever tied to the buyer through these Forms, and in case of invasion, the first thing the enemy would do is to get those Forms then to get the weapons. Just like in the movie "Red Dawn." And, a disarmed public is an enslaved public.

    Now, if you doubt this Gun Background Check information, call your local gun dealer and ask about it.

    Gun Registration is unconstitutional, therefore de facto Gun Registration Gun Background Checks are unconstitutional. QED.

    April 10, 2013 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Nitalynn

      And where exactally in the Constitution do you see the part about gun regisration being illegal?

      April 15, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Solomon Walker

    How many United States citizens do you know that have violent criminal backgrounds that you will never know about because of attorney/client privilege.

    When citizens start asking these questions with genuine concern, perhaps our society will begin to appear as though most people actually care about the lives of others.

    We had a constitution. It is now ignored by Antonin Scalia and his followers in the lower courts.

    There is no turning back unless civilians make that choice to do so.

    You messed up. I taught my family well.
    I take no credit for what society has caused on this subject because me and my children handled our firearms with safety, security, and have spoken this to others.

    You failed, America.

    April 10, 2013 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. KrjMc

    And it will get even better when we vote out the rest of the GOP next year, then we can really get something done.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. wrongo

    CNN Liberal Cesspool.

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    April 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Payne

    ANARCHY, ANARCHY, really in the end of it all the country needs a good revolution, that is all

    April 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cher

    Down with both parties they both have sold the America and her citizens out . ITS TIME FOR A NON CORRUPT LEADERSHIP THEY GOT TO GO.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. darkrider 123

    Wouldn't that be something, Congress cooperating. All you haters, especially the brainwashers that make a fortune fronting for the rich and powerful, would have nothing but your pathetic lives to bemone. And I didn,t say R or D, both own pathetic haters.
    Elected officials and their minions working for the good of the republic instead of towing the line with their eyes on their own prize is almost inconcievable. But with these trying economic times what is to become of the lawyers and xpoliticos who have sunken to lobbying for the highest bidders and the entertainers that fill the airways and printed page at the bidding of sponcers and advertisers? No worries mate, the whores seem to survive.

    April 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. scott

    Well you are only as good as your leader. Obama is spinning agenda after agenda. Nothing is getting done in congress and I am thankful for that. This wave and push from the left will end soon enough. 3 years and counting. Just for the record Obama and Bloomberg forced my hand I went out and bought 2 ar15s and 1 ar10...what a blast. Going to buy another over the weekend (and a 32 oz soda for myself) . Its good to have freedoms, next I am going to make a large donation to the NRA, America stand up and fight back against the left.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • greennnnnn

      That sounds pretty childish and immature. And paranoid. I'd expect nothing less...................

      April 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ER

      Bahaha. You are going to be quite upset come 2014, 2016, 2018 and even 2020... brace yourself.

      April 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loathstheright

      I bet your IQ is lower than that 32 oz soda.

      April 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • johnny

        Why do you liberals inst people and through temper tantroms like little kids when someone feels different than you? Hate monger, go suck obamas tit

        April 11, 2013 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Troll Hunter

      Funny how you Trolls like to spew nonsense here in the Political forums.
      I am Left and Liberal and I also have Weapons (not guns amateurs) lol and I Also believe you should too!! So how does that grab you Mr Troll?

      April 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • vincent

      Will you also get in a Homosexual Relationship and Smoke Weed, Scott? That will show the Left who is Boss.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • johnny

        Maybe he she get in a homosexual relationshiand make you his bitch

        April 11, 2013 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
        • Constantine16621990

          Did you cheat your way out of first grade English and spelling johnny my boy? I mean wow:/

          April 11, 2013 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Constantine16621990

      You are by far the biggest redneck ive ever heard of scott:/ what the hell is wrong with you, you over paranoid gun freak:/ nobody wants to hear about your lame guns:/

      April 11, 2013 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • mique1

      Hey Scott. Only as good as our leader? I disagree. I was not a dickhead for the eight years GW was messing things up.

      April 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tippy

    remember Olympia Snowe sold out to the admin many times and on the health care mess she voted yes

    April 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. T

    ...........have they found thinking life............in Minnesota's 6th District yet?

    April 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. davecu

    I'd be getting along well with others if I just got back from a vacation I didn't earn, too.
    Of the people, by the people s*rew the people.!

    April 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. morris

    Lets face it- big money is involved ( NRA) . Elected officials want to get back in power and if they think there is a risk of losing votes ( NRA vows to see that anyone who does not play ball with them will not get in)they will not take the risk. Sad but true. What this means is the American electorate MUST get involved and hold their elected officials to account. They must get educated on the FACTS and not what they hear a few days before an election. The power is with the people however the public is responsible for how they vote. Being informed and standing up for what you believe is a must. Letting people like Michelle Bachman, Sarah P.alen, Mitt Romney decide our future is scary and yet we the electorate continue to vote them in. We must ensure we vote people in who have integrity, intelligent and who want what is right not what it can do for them is the only way to get results. As for Obama how lucky the American people are to have him- you don't know how lucky you are. There is a man of integrity!!!!!I'm not a Republican or an democrat but I can see an honest man when I see him. He is so far the savior of America and I think history will show that he was all about America and not about his own ego!!!!!

    April 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      "This message brought to you by the Democratic National Committee"

      April 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saddened

      I'm neither Democrat or Republican, but I'm also not so dis-illusioned as to how much damage our current president has done in regard to worsening an already out-of-control national deficit by bringing on programs that can't be supported at this time, and unfortunately being so far to the left and unwilling to negotiate from what he "thinks" "his" voters want, that the divide between 2 equally valid and valuable right and left sides has become almost unworkable. This IS NOT a sign of a great leader - a great leader would strive to bring us closer together as a country so we can have balanced change that all can get behind and be proud of (congress included). It's a shame, I was hoping for more, but I know it's a tough job.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jreynozo

      @morris people speak of the NRA as if it is its own entity. It is a collection of a specific group within the electorate as are all special interest groups (including the Sierra Club). They work to represent that specific group's opinions. If what they represented went against what the members (the electorate) wanted then they would see a decrease in membership = funds = influence. Instead, when the government appears to threaten the specific interest of this group (the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights) you see that their membership increases.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yetiusmc

      Follow the money? You know that the NRA (an special interest group formed to protect OUR second amendment, not further themselves financially) is not even in the top 20 largest lobbies? You say we need to be informed, well, get informed yourself. The big money is drugs and insurance, they are the ones everyone should be rallying against!

      April 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnny

      Are you on drugs? Obama is all agenda and lies. Killing this nations. Get a education yourself man sheeeesh

      April 11, 2013 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. Stay Informed

    The legislation they're actually passing has little to do with the soap opera playing out in the media. The way both sides continue to spend on porkulus bills to enhance their careers you'd think there wasn't really a budget problem at all.


    April 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. name

    Politicians making deals to help themselves? I never would've guessed.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Tychi

    The GOP is going to help? Work together with the Dems? I thought it was the GOP that was going to filibuster so nothing can be done.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Joe Mama

    They all have the same basic agenda: help themselves. If they are agreeing on something its because it helps all of them. If they are arguing then it's because they are each representing the interests in whichever side they are taking. We are not part of the equation. If you understand this, it makes it a lot easier to understand what is going on in Washington.

    April 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  18. RalphS

    I@dd:: For the most part, I agree with your first two sentences. The rest is pure crap and so typical of those that base every comment on" liberalism" or "conservatism", regurgitating any sound byte they hear from irresponsible individuals that supposedly represent the interest of the general public. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of this. Its time to stop using those terms and engage in intelligent conversation that focuses on the topic, leaving out the biased editorials. For the record, I do not think Congress is getting along. Quite honestly, I think this is the worst session in many decades.

    April 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  19. dd

    The US mainstream news media supports polarization and divisiveness. Anyone who can generate hate is given a headline. Obama exceeds at this so he gets lots of headlines. Beohmer is really laid back. The news media hates him because he won't say that Obama is the devil. Liberals have become the most divisive group in the world and are probably going to kill more innocent people than the Muslim Brotherhood. News journalists should worry. There could be an American Spring or Summer when left wing extremists are eliminated from society. The New York Times would die.

    April 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  20. ya rights

    Sadly the only time when both sides get along is when the drums of war are banging.

    April 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Jay

    If they're getting along, it must be because they found a new enemy to fight together... probably the politically incorrect American.

    April 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  22. mpouxesas

    CNN: "Huh? Congress is getting along?" I say: CNN, Huh?

    April 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    This country was built on hate and greed and teapublicans have demonstrated this trait first hand for the past four years. They don't seem to believe in the old American cliche of "one nation under God" or in "united we stand, divided we fall." But I'm please that some of them are starting to open up and come to their sense.

    April 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • paratrooper_us

      Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer – I like how you blame one party. It is pretty naive and gives understanding as to why we are in the mess that we are in – people do not want to see the whole issue, just the other side. People in this country no longer accept responsibility for the actions that they, or those they support take, they just want to either blame and demonize the other person (group). I guess we all forget the old rule of – "those that are without sin may caste the first stone."

      Get a clue – it is BOTH Parties that are the issue. Neither wants to work with the other on Anything. They all want what they want, and if they do not get it, then they complain and blame the other. I am sure that some one is going to bring up the line of "We won, President Obama is in office – get over it." First – I am not Democrat nor Republican, I vote across both parties, and unfortunately being a realist, I vote for who I think is going to do the least amount of damage, not the best person (because there is no longer a good politician). Second – There are 536 elected positions (I am counting President and Vice President as one elected position, since technically, one vote goes for both). President Obama is just one of those positions. Is he the most important? Does what he says always go? Yes he has the right to Veto and law, but there is a method to override that Veto, so in reality – he may have more overall power, but there are other checks and balances – so no – you did not win as big as you think.

      April 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • TNPatriot

        Talk about naive, do you really think that anybody believes your bs about not being a republican? Your final line defined you.

        April 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  24. jon

    I don't believe they are REALLY getting along that well. However, they do know that they are history in 2014 if they do not put forth at least some effort to DO SOMETHING over these next months.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |