New year, new Congress: will it manage to avoid being dysfunctional?

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The U.S capitol is seen from the Newseum museum balcony. The Capitol building is currently undergoing renovations and repairs to return its large dome to its original grandeur.

Conor O'Bryon

The last couple of years have not been the best on Capitol Hill: a gridlocked Congress did not agree on much of anything, with a Republican House versus a Democratic Senate and White House. This changed in November when Republicans took control of the Senate and increased their majority in the House. Now, in the new year, the 114th Congress has convened, and it is still unclear whether America will start its engine again or become gridlocked until 2016.

One of the first bills being presented by the Republican majority is the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been hotly debated for years. However, in the last couple of days, the White House has threatened to veto the bill for the pipeline, a depressing sign for those that hoped for an early bipartisan relationship.

Americans are annoyed with Washington. Voters in the November elections voiced their displeasure by voting in a Republican majority. Now Washington is edging towards another stalemate as Congress proposes and the president threatens to veto bills. Washington needs to make compromises. Congress and the White House both need to realize they have to work together to get things done.

With Democrats no longer controlling the Senate, President Obama has to accept that he needs to listen to Congress, and that means listening to both Democrats and Republicans. Also, Congress is the law-making branch of the government, not the White House. Therefore, President Obama should stop thinking things can be done by Executive order and Executive order only. These orders would only create friction between Congress and the President, and endanger bipartisan agreements.

At the same time, Republicans need to acknowledge that while they now control Congress, the president controls the veto pen. Ideas that are all-or-nothing will not make it, so they should not be the center of focus for Republicans. Instead, more moderate ideas and bipartisan issues should be brought to the forefront.

Both political parties need to rethink their overall strategy in Washington. America cannot be dysfunctional for two more years. Republicans and the White House need to get their heads out of the clouds and back to Earth. Americans are waiting.