Americans may think of Congress as one body, but relations between its two chambers can be downright cold - almost like neighboring nations refusing to honor each other's currency.
Walk the hallway from one chamber to the other, and halfway across the Capitol the carpeting changes. So does the attitude."On the Senate side, condescension and arrogance. On the House side, irritation, jealousy and anger," said a senior House Democrat who discussed the verboten topic only on the condition his name not be used.
It's senators and their ladies to the chauffeur-driven limousines, House members and their wives to the buses. But it's also more than that.
"The two bodies are more different than it seems from a surface analysis," said Sen. Albert Gore, D-Tenn.
"I thought what I had learned in eight years of service in the House might give me a leg up. . . . But I found instead that I had to unlearn a lot of the procedures that had seemed to be the same. There are more invisible walls you can bump your nose into in the Senate . . . unwritten rules that take time to learn," he said.
The Senate's written rules, or, some would say, the lack thereof, give any single senator a fair chance to ruin months of legislative crafting.
"The only way to do anything in the American government is to bypass the Senate," President Franklin D. Roosevelt said.
Rep. Vic Fazio, D-Calif., chairman of the House subcommittee on the legislative branch, must deal frequently with Senate matters. He has concluded that America was wise to copy the British parliamentary system but foolish not to follow through and "make the House of Lords irrelevant."
Meanwhile, legislative negotiations between the two chambers of-ten amount to House members "carrying on this debate with young Harvard Law School legislative assistants on the Senate side who have the arrogance to interrupt both them and their boss," the House Democrat said.