Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015

Departing Kerry warns senators of crippling gridlock

Published on Jan 31, 2013 8:11 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States Senator John Kerry offered some tough love on Wednesday to the colleagues he leaves behind to become secretary of state: end the fierce partisanship or risk the nation's reputation as a beacon of democracy.

Mr Kerry, whose confirmation as President Barack Obama's choice to replace Mrs Hillary Clinton as chief US diplomat sailed through the Senate a day earlier, said lawmakers needed to end the chamber's "reputation as a sanctuary of gridlock" and get down to legislating through compromise and consensus.

"If democracy deadlocks here, we raise doubts about democracy everywhere," Mr Kerry, who at times turned emotional in his farewell speech on the Senate floor, told Democrats and a smattering of Republicans. "If we use the time to posture politically in Washington, we weaken our position across the world."

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have engaged in bruising partisan debate and voting in recent months, notably concluding the 112th Congress a month ago by waiting until the final hour to reach only a partial deal to avoid a series of fiscal crises including tax hikes and spending cuts.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!