Lawmakers Split on President's 'Year of Action,' Hope for 'Thaw' in Congressional Gridlock

Blumenthal said he has seen signs of a “thawing” in Congress on certain issues, such as the budget, foreign policy, flood insurance, and immigration reform. He said the president’s speech had a sense of hope and optimism for action on many of these issues.

“You know the president was simply repeating what we all hear when we go home. The American people want us to get things done. And I think that is the mantra you're going to hear increasingly and that will lead to more of a thaw,” Blumenthal said.

While he agreed lawmakers from both parties are ready to work on legislation, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said the narrow Republican majority in the House has made it more difficult to govern because “15, 16 members of Congress can become the ex-officio speaker and walk into John Boehner’s office and [refuse to vote on a bill].”

“The challenge is finding legislative priorities that can get both sides to work together. Because at the end of the day even if we pass things out of the House with 218 Republicans, it has to go through a Democrat-controlled Senate,” Schock said.

Schock took a jab at the “more conservative” members of the GOP who took a leading role in the recent government shutdown and the debt ceiling showdowns.

“Like a little kid, you’ve got to teach them: When you touch a hot stove, it’s gonna burn you,” he said, referring to members within the House Republican Conference who were pushing for a government shutdown. “Some of them had to touch the hot stove.”

He said the demands some of these Republicans laid out as a requirement to fund government showed the lack of legislative experience in the GOP.

“Half the Congress wasn’t here when the president first showed up. Half the Congress wasn’t here when healthcare passed. Half the Congress is not used to the institutional process,” Schock said.