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Article published September 21, 2012
Congress shuts down until after Nov. 6 election
WASHINGTON — A frustrated Congress quit Washington on Saturday with at least one hope — that the stark choice in the Nov. 6 election will give lawmakers clarity about what Americans want from their government. They desperately need some direction. Lawmakers will return in about seven weeks and face a crowded list of must-do items, topped by avoiding what’s become known as the fiscal cliff: the combination of expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending cuts that could drive the country back into recession. Two years of rancor and a divided government resulted in one of the least productive, least popular Congresses in history. The election presents two competing philosophies. President Barack Obama and Democrats envision a government with enough resources to help lift up the less fortunate. Mitt Romney and Republicans see one that gets out of the way, allowing people to make the most in an opportunistic society. “The electorate has sent us, has sent the country two very different messages over the last two elections,” said freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. “They elected the most liberal president in a long time and then the most conservative group to the House of Representatives two years later. That is the conflicting message.” The upcoming election — “You sort of look at this as the tiebreaker,” Mulvaney said.