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Just How Broken is the Senate?

By George Packer, The New Yorker - August 2, 2010

“Sit and watch us for seven days,” one senator says of the deadlocked chamber. “You know what you’ll see happening? Nothing.”

“This is just one of those days when you want to throw up your hands and say, ‘What in the world are we doing?’ ” Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, said.

“It’s unconscionable,” Carl Levin, the senior Democratic senator from Michigan, said. “The obstructionism has become mindless.”

The Senators were in the Capitol, sunk into armchairs before the marble fireplace in the press lounge, which is directly behind the Senate chamber. It was four-thirty on a Wednesday afternoon. McCaskill, in a matching maroon jacket and top, looked exasperated; Levin glowered over his spectacles.

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