Leadership Needs to Meet

Leadership Needs to Meet

by Jonathan Miller

“We’ve been waiting for the House to conduct their business and they’re having trouble conducting it.” - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); July 29, 2011.

“The only thing standing in the way of the House proposal...is the president and Sen. Reid.”  - House Speaker John Boehner; July 30, 2011.

America’s leaders are playing the blame game -- and citizens across the country are bearing the consequences.

America’s Congressional leaders have always held enormous influence in both chambers of Congress. While all lawmakers are involved in drafting and voting upon legislation, the central role of the Speaker of the House, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and majority and minority leaders in both bodies, cannot be underestimated.

However, the people with the most responsibility and capability to move legislation forward, rarely meet in-person. How can Congressional leadership pilot a nation together if they’re never in the same room with one another?

To fixing this glaring deficiency, No Labels proposes bringing our leaders together by creating a Bipartisan Congressional Leadership Committee.

On Tuesday, No Labels proposed a private monthly gathering of each chamber of Congress to encourage bipartisan discussion and cooperation. But No Labels is taking this reform idea one step further by proposing a separate meeting for congressional leadership -- the people who guide Congress’ legislative agenda.

This meeting would act as more than a symbolic step toward bipartisanship. It would give our leaders an opportunity for frank, private dialogue, the kind that is impossible in front of the media’s bright lights.

Such a committee would comprise the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House, majority and minority leaders from the House and Senate, and two additional members of each chamber of Congress, who would be selected on a rotating basis. By including rank-and-file lawmakers it will help ensure leadership is in communication and working seamlessly with all the members of Congress.

When a crisis hits in the private sector, standard operating procedure is for a company’s executives to huddle, in-person in the boardroom and develop a plan to save the business. But in Washington, when our nation’s future was on the line this summer -- Congressional leaders and the President walked out on our each and canceled meetings with frightening regularity. That’s why, in addition to weekly committee meetings, the leadership group would also meet with the president on a monthly basis.

The few recent instances of cooperation between congressional leaders have occurred mainly through go-betweens and unofficial channels. With the Bipartisan Congressional Leadership Committee, our congressional leaders will have the opportunity  to discuss the nation’s most pressing issues directly face-to-face, and in private.

With our country in crisis, go-betweens and walk-outs are no longer acceptable. It’s time for our elected officials to regularly meet, face-to-fact and start finding solutions before it’s too late.

What do you think? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation about No Labels’ proposed congressional rules reforms. Click here to check out our other proposed reforms.

Jonathan Miller is the former two-term elected Kentucky State Treasurer and has served three years as the state's CFO, the Secretary of Finance and Administration. During the first Clinton/Gore Administration, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Energy.

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