Congressmen Ami Bera, David Cicilline, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger talk problem solving.
The Super Committee’s inability to reach a deficit reduction compromise is just the latest in a frustratingly long series of failures by Congress. Deadline after deadline is ignored as Congress punts tough decisions to ensure America’s future.
Fed up? Fix it!
No Labels is introducing its congressional reforms agenda at a citizens’ meeting in Washington D.C., on Dec. 13. To attend, email email@example.com. Click here to see the draft agenda and who will be in attendance. Earlier this month, we tossed around some of our ideas and listened to what readers said. We are revising and incorporating feedback on these ideas before we introduce the final slate of reforms.
We have cut some of the reforms people didn’t like and added stronger pieces that we expect to headline our package. We now have 12 reforms, that’s 12 steps to reform Congress. Below is a summary of some of the reform ideas we tossed around earlier this month:
1. Three In, One Out
William Galston suggests both houses of Congress synchronize their schedules and work for three weeks in Washington a month and spend one week in their districts. This reform would cut down on plane trips on the taxpayers’ dime.
2. Question Time
Dan Gerstein adds a British flavor to the reforms and suggested that America implement Question Time, an exercise where the president directly responds to Congress’ inquiries on a monthly basis.
3. 90 Days to Confirm
Jonathan Miller takes Congress to task for taking so long to confirm presidential nominations. He says that Congress should be given a deadline 90 days following the initial nomination. Readers on PolicyMic like this idea. Tony O’Doherty comments “I fully support this proposal as a badly needed improvement in efficiently filling vacant government posts.”
4. Fiscal State of the Union
Dave Walker says it’s time for people to speak clearly about the economy. In that spirit, he suggests that the U.S. comptroller general give an annual address to Congress to present America’s current financial condition, long-term fiscal outlook, and clear, understandable data on the economy.
5. Abandon Partisan Seating
Jim Kessler suggests that Congress abandon its partisan seating and send a symbolic message to America’s citizens that their leaders are able to find common ground. PolicyMic commenter Kirstin Johnson notes these reforms are not a silver bullet. But, if enacted, they will be a big first step toward moving America forward, out of our current hyper-partisan gridlock.
6. Mandatory Bipartisan Gatherings
Mark McKinnon proposes a mandatory monthly bipartisan gathering of each chamber of Congress. This reform would build on the successful Camp David negotiations showcased on September 17, 1978 that led to peace between Egypt and Israel. In order for leaders to collaborate on pressing issues, it is important to occasionally move out of the spotlight and talk behind closed doors.
7. No Pledges Except the Oath of Office
No Labels’ Co-Founder Robert S. Kaplan argues Congress should do away with single-issue partisan pledges. He suggests that elected officials should stop taking pledges except their oath of office, a way to prevent leaders from “hid[ing] behind timeless and inflexible promises to single-issue groups.”
8. Congress Isn’t Exempt
Bill Galston proposes that members of Congress should not be exempt from laws they themselves pass. One commenter on the No Labels blog says, “All members of Congress should be subject to the same laws they impose on the rest of us. Nobody should be above the law.”
9. Leadership Needs to Meet
Jonathan Miller says that it's time for America's leaders to stop playing the blame game. Our country needs to create a bipartisan congressional leadership committee to ensure the leaders of both parties have a platform to communicate with one another routinely.
10. Reform the Filibuster
Dave Walker explains why it's time to reform the filibsuter. Secret holds and silent filibusters remove the practice from what it once was and prevent America's citizens from holding their elected officials accountable. A simple rule reform could make the process more efficient. No Labels Blog commenter Kristine Woodworth agrees, calling the secret hold process “an abuse of the system and an abdication of responsibility.”
Based on your feedback, we will finalize our reforms for a citizens’ meeting and press conference on Dec. 13, 2011 in Washington, DC. To attend, email Liani today.