Hillary Clinton on Congress: 'Do they just not care?'

Hillary Clinton is sworn in to the senate on January 4, 2007.

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton, a former senator, questioned the current Congress' resolve to legislate.
  • 'The basic problem is we have lost leaders on both sides of the aisle,' Clinton said.
Hillary Clinton lit into members of Congress on Wednesday night in Chicago, questioning their resolve to legislate as opposed to their desire to play politics.
"The basic problem is we have lost leaders on both sides of the aisle, particularly at this point in history, on the other side of the aisle, who are more interested in governing than in posturing, more interested in problem solving than in partisanship," Clinton told an audience of business leaders at The Economic Club of Chicago on Wednesday night.
Clinton, the former senator from New York and Democrats' presidential favorite, said this became clear for her during the 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013, when President Barack Obama had to cancel his trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia. At the time Clinton was secretary of state.
"I don't care what party you are, Democrats never did that to George W. Bush despite our deep differences with President Bush on taxes, on Iraq, on so many other things," Clinton said. "We never did it."
Clinton's remarks were more stepped up than in the past, questioning not only Congress' resolve, but their commitment to doing their jobs.
"You have to ask yourself, do these particular members of Congress really understand the world? Understand what it means for the United States to lead and to be perceived as a leader? Or do they just not care," Clinton posited. "Do they just have a whole other agenda that enables them to say whatever they want to say and spout whatever rhetoric they want to spout?"
Clinton has been outspoken in her longing for political leaders who could negotiate and cut deals. Her stump speech regularly includes lines that decry partisan politics.
"It is deeply distressing to me that we have people running for Congress, both House and Senate, who proudly go around their districts and their states proclaiming that you should send them to Washington because they will never compromise," Clinton said, pulling a line from previous speeches.
Clinton urged the 900 well-heeled business leaders and philanthropists in the room to make their disapproval known.
"That is why it is imperative that you have people in business and other positions of responsibility basically say... 'Get out there and do your job. Stay off the talk shows. Get back to the Congress. Legislate and solve America's problems.'"
She added later, in an apparent appeal to independents, this call: "The only way to solve this is for the American people, the American voters... who constitute the great middle of the American political system, to just call a halt to it."