Make Congress Work!

By Emma Petasis
December 12, 2011 | Blog

It all matters (1:57 p.m.) — Calls, letters and emails are all efficient ways to push your message to Congress.  If you push a desire in every office to act in a bipartisan way, it tells elected officials what their constituents are thinking, Clarine Nardi Riddle, chief of staff to Lieberman, says. “What you need to appreciate is how much changing the debate, the discourse, can make a difference in the outcome,” Chris Kofinis, chief of staff to Manchin, says.

It’s your turn (1:16 p.m.) — Go to nolabels.org/work  and explore our website. The Internet is a powerful tool that will allow us to broadcast our message far and wide. But we need each one of you to get involved. Tweet it to your followers. Facebook it to your friends. Send out an email to your lists. Just get involved. Together, we can Make Congress Work.

Deep Dive with Bill Galston (12:53 p.m.) — Galston talks in-depth about each proposal in the Make Congress Work action plan. There are four ways to get it done:

1. You can appeal to the conduct of individual members.

2. You can have changes in Congress that can be made if the leadership decides to make them.

3. You can have actual rules changes in the Congress. The House and Senate have the power to create their own rules.

4. You can have actual legislation

The bottom line is voters have power. “People in this building are here not because they sent themselves, but because they were sent. And the states that send them can every so often haul them back,” Galston said.

Realizing the Potential of Congress (12:12 p.m.) — Former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) talks to the group about what Congress can do. Congress must be more accountable to the American people, Bayh says, but the people must also get more involved. Citizen engagement is one of the principles upon which government was founded. What can you do?

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the website listing our reforms at nolabels.org/work. Sign our petition, contact your member of Congress, write letters to the editor or simply read up on our proposals on the site.

Top Five Quotes from the Press Conference (11:24 a.m.)

1. “If Washington got paid for performance, they would owe money.” — Hon. Dave Walker

2. “Don’t you think it’s ironic that I have 60 seconds to discuss the filibuster?” — Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)

3. “An honest day’s work leads to an honest day’s pay.” — Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

4. “Leadership is not just about being macho. Leadership is about doing the right thing.” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)

5. “Public office is a public trust.” — Nelson

No Negative Campaigning (10:47 a.m.) — “It’s a little bit of common sense,” says Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) of the No Labels Make Congress Work action plan. Manchin introduced a No Labels proposal that would ask members to not campaign against their colleagues. It’s tough to work with people who openly work against you Sunday and Monday and ask to work together on Tuesday.

Question Time (10:45 a.m.) — Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) knows the American people are fed up with Congress. “Someone asked me a while ago: Why do the American people have such a bad opinion of Congress? I said it’s because Congress has been so bad.” That’s why he is so supportive of the No Labels Make Congress Work action plan. Lieberman introduced Question Time to put Congress and the president in the same room to emphasize substantive debate.

Why Fixing the System Matters (10:18 a.m.) — Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and John Yarmuth (D-KY) and former Reps. Tom Davis (R-VA) and Bob Edgar (D-PA) discuss the importance of reforming Washington. They talk about the problems in the current Congress and relate it to their previous experiences in the institution. It’s time to change the rules and fix what’s broken.

Standing Room Only (9:24 a.m.) — The Cannon Caucus Room has filled with No Labels members from across the country. The energy in the room is palpable. Lisa Borders led the group in singing America the Beautiful and a number of members told their stories about why they came and want to Make Congress Work.

Coverage (8:25 a.m.) — People across the country are already taking notice of the meeting. USA Today ran a story about our reforms, Mark McKinnon wrote a piece in The Daily Beast, former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) wrote an op-ed in POLITICO about confirming presidential nominations within 90 days and Bill Galston wrote an op-ed in The Hill about fixing the filibuster.

Live from Capitol Hill (8:07 a.m.) — We’re live from the Cannon Caucus Room where hundreds of citizens will gather to Make Congress Work to change the rules and fix what’s broken. We’re blogging live from the Cannon Caucus Room throughout the day to keep you posted. Be sure to follow us on Twitter throughout theday to hear the latest and check out our reforms at http://nolabels.org/work.

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