The Washington Times - January 27, 2014, 09:50AM

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, predicted Monday that Congress will have a more productive year in 2014 than it did last year — thanks in part to what he says is the tea party’s waning influence on Capitol Hill.

“Yeah, it is a low bar, admittedly, but you know, the Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate has finally said, ‘enough of the tea party,’” Mr. Schumer said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.” “The tea party has had a stranglehold on our politics and I find it funny when Republicans say the president’s policies have failed. They haven’t let him put them into effect. They haven’t put in more money for infrastructure, or education, or scientific research — things that would help the middle class advance. I think this year it might be a little different.”


Mr. Schumer cited bipartisan talks on issues such as increasing the minimum wage, spending on infrastructure programs and dealing with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“I think immigration has a very good chance of actually becoming law,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s not going to be everything I would want, it’s not going to be everything [House Speaker] John Boehner would want. But on that one, I think we can make both sides happy.”

Mr. Boehner’s office has said that the country should not toy with defaulting on its debt, but that a “clean” extension of the nation’s borrowing limit would not pass the House. The White House wants Congress to pass an increase sometime next month, and has once again declared the idea of negotiating on the debt limit a nonstarter.

Mr. Schumer predicted that Congress will indeed pass a clean extension and said that he does not favor negotiating on that issue, either.

“The Republican leadership, and most Republicans, are not going to follow Ted Cruz over the cliff a la ‘Thelma and Louise’ twice,” Mr. Schumer said. “And so I don’t think there has to be deal-making on that, but on many other issues, obviously we can come together.”