Democrats and Republicans in Washington can’t seem to agree on much these days, but four members of Illinois’ congressional delegation are working to change that by joining No Labels’ fast-growing group of Congressional Problem Solvers. The group — first announced just two months ago with a dozen members — now features 55 members who are meeting regularly to build trust across the aisle.
Reps. Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Lipinski and Cheri Bustos are part of something unprecedented. Ask any member of Congress and they will tell you that before the advent of the Problem Solvers, there was literally no forum where rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans could actually meet together to discuss solutions. It’s a shocking revelation and a big reason why dysfunction has dominated D.C.
With Democrats controlling the U.S. Senate and Republicans controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, no one can get everything they want. Our Problem Solvers recognize that they have to find a way to work together or else they will get nothing done
In linking up with No Labels, the Illinois representatives are helping supercharge a movement that is growing by the day. I helped launch No Labels in December 2010 as a group of Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to a new politics of problem solving. Today, we have hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters across the country. We have a growing presence on Capitol Hill, as evidenced by the emerging Problem Solvers. And we have a serious government reform agenda that is gaining traction.
In fact, the Senate passed a budget for the first time in four years last month thanks in large part to a measure that No Labels created and pushed relentlessly. We have an idea in our Make Congress Work! action plan called No Budget, No Pay that is as simple as it sounds: Members of Congress don’t get paid if they don’t pass a budget on time.
A modified version of No Budget, No Pay passed as part of the debt ceiling extension bill in February, and clearly compelled Congress to get serious about timely budgets.
We’re just getting started. On April 16, I’ll be flying the No Labels flag alongside an exciting lineup of speakers at the “Returning Civility to Our Public Discourse” Symposium at Bradley University in Peoria. The event is open to everyone. In the meantime, you can visit NoLabels.org to learn more about how regular citizens can get our leaders to stop fighting and start fixing America’s problems.
Jonathan Miller is the former treasurer of the state of Kentucky and a co-founder of the political organization No Labels, headquartered in Washington, D.C.