Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to an overflow crowd following a rally and picnic, Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Oskaloosa, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By David Lightman
July 31, 2015

  • No final action on budget, highways, debt ceiling
  • House plans no votes until Sept. 8
  • Trump, Sanders draw big crowds with fix-Washington message

WASHINGTON — In this summer of political gloom, the drumbeat from the American heartland to Washington has been relentless: Fix the economy. Fix the immigration system. Talk to each other.

It’s one reason why political insurgents Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders have become the raging bulls of the 2016 presidential race and the political stories of the summer.

But it’s business as usual on Capitol Hill, where too-common political Band-Aids and fiery appeals to narrow constituencies trump thoughtful debate and long-term solutions.

Congress actually did pass a piece of legislation Thursday, to fund transportation and infrastructure. Few would dispute it’s been a festering sore urgently in need of congressional attention.

But instead of the multi-year program that states have been pleading for year after year – and that many lawmakers agree is long overdue – they could only muster support for a three-month stopgap solution.

This week the Senate has leaped on plans to debate cutting money to Planned Parenthood, a target of controversy over the sale of fetal tissue. In the House of Representatives, some Republicans talk about yet another vote – there’s already been more than 50 ‑ to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

But nothing will happen anytime soon. House members left town this week for nearly six weeks and won’t return until September. The Senate is counting the hours until it departs sometime next week. Both chambers left behind a long to-do list of fiscal issues whose importance will only grow as deadlines for decisions shorten.

All this is certainly one reason why lots of voters are rebelling and why Trump, a developer and reality TV star running as a Republican, and Sanders, a liberal independent from Vermont running as a Democrat, have drawn the biggest crowds as they try to mobilize voter anger.

“Trump and Sanders benefit by the inaction of Congress, or more specifically politicians in general,” said Craig Robinson, editor-in-chief and founder of, a partisan newsletter in the nation’s first caucus state.

All talk, no action. Craig Robinson, editor-in-chief of, on how voters see most Washington politicians

Sanders has surprisingly emerged as the chief Democratic alternative to front-runner Hillary Clinton. Two new polls last week gave Trump a comfortable lead over Republican rivals in New Hampshire and had him a strong second in Iowa.

They have very different approaches. Trump rails against the political system. Sanders wants to build grassroots support.

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