Lame-duck lawmakers defend robust debates

Nov. 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Some high-profile members of the U.S. Congress who will be leaving office next year said bipartisan bickering should not be confused with robust debate.

The lawmakers took part in a taped interview that aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" said certain issues had to be hashed out by all sides on Capitol Hill and not just kicked down the road even though the process might not be particularly smooth.

"I hate it when people say we're bickering," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., "We are debating the most fundamental issues."

Frank proposed that the current Congress was the product of nationwide elections in 2006, 2008 and 2010. He said there had been significant swings in public opinion during that period.

Sen. Jon Kyle, R-Ariz., agreed with Frank's take on how Congress conducts business and said the seeming chaos was something of a tradition in American society.

"If you look at our jury system, the whole idea there is you have a big contest between two sides, and supposedly truth wins out in the end," said Kyl. "It's the same thing with the debate in the House and the Senate."

Sen. Kay Bailey-Hutchinson, R-Texas, told CNN the way the system has worked over the years gave her confidence Congress and the White House would pull off an agreement that would prevent the country from hurtling off the so-called fiscal cliff.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., advised incoming lawmakers to not paint themselves into a corner with drastic campaign promises they might not be able to keep. He cited George Washington who warned against politicians toeing the party line over the best interests of the nation as a whole.

"The unwillingness to compromise, to approach every issue saying I will not vote for this unless I get 100 percent of what I want, in the end, you get 0 percent," Lieberman said.

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