Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Capitol Hill. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- To understand the choices before voters this fall, look to Congress this week, where the House and Senate are set to conduct show votes on measures that will have long lives on the campaign trail, but little expectation of becoming law.
The contrast being presented is clear: The GOP-led House is scheduled to vote on a bill to repeal President Obama's healthcare law; the Senate, with its Democratic majority, will try to advance one of the items on Obama's economic to-do list -- a 10% tax credit for companies that make new hires or give employees pay raises.
Neither bill is expected to go far in this divided Congress.
House Republicans have passed 30 bills repealing aspects of the healthcare legislation, but it remains the law of the land. The bill up this week has similar prospects and is likely to languish in the Senate.
"This vote can't come soon enough," said freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) in the party's weekly radio address. "This healthcare law just flies in the face of what America is supposed to be, and repealing it would revitalize our economy and the values upon which our country was founded."
At the same time, the proposed tax measure is likely to find little support from Republicans in the Senate. The bill would provide a tax break of up to $500,000 per company, as well as other tax credits for business owners.
"Unless Republicans are truly rooting for our economy to fail, there is simply mo reason for them to oppose such common-sense jobs measures," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in announcing the vote.
July is often a month in Congress when lawmakers spend their days on political message votes -- measures they can bring home to voters to show where they stand on the issues.
The only problem with that strategy this year is that voters, viewing the situation in partisan Washington, have given Congress some of its lowest approval ratings ever.
At a time when polls indicate that jobs and the economy remain the top issues on voters' minds, lawmakers may find these show votes give them little boost amid an electorate that has grown tired of the gridlock.
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