Tired of the gridlock that has plagued Congress for several sessions, a bipartisan group lawmakers from the House and Senate have come together to form a united agenda with the sole purpose of increasing Washington’s efficiency.
This group of more than 70 lawmakers – including Chaka Fattah (D-PA-2), Glen Thompson (R-PA-5), Patrick Meehan (R-PA-7) and Charlie Dent (R-PA-15) – had joined to form an ambitious, partisan-free platform with the goal of crafting an inclusive national agenda.
Termed the “No Labels” Campaign, the initiative will operate for three years, and, according to the campaign, will begin with leaders from both sides of the aisle co-developing goals that both parties – plus Independents – can agree on. It is those shares goals that will then form the foundation of No Labels’ national agenda.
If it sounds little more that a hyped super-committee, No Labels Co-Chair, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, R, said this group’s main purpose is to dissolve the gridlock created by lopsided committees and party loyalists – not add to it.
“In recent years, presidents have talked about being ‘uniters, not dividers,’ but have never been able to deliver on that promise or told us how,” Huntsman said. “This campaign is a roadmap for how to bring a divided nation together. And it begins with political leaders like Reps. Fattah, Meehan [and others] who are committed to working with colleagues across the aisle to look for areas of agreement.”
While Congress has shown something of a thaw in the partisan impasse that has griped Washington – having recently passed a massive Farm Bill along with passing a bill just this week that avoided the looming debt-ceiling crisis – one could argue if a grouping such as No Labels is even necessary.
No Labels Co-Chair Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) said with the influence of No Labels, Washington would operate even smoother. Manchin also pointed to the political bravery exhibited by those who have joined the No Labels group, alluding to the criticism members may receive from within their respective party for aligning with a group which may put forth an agenda that runs counter to the present Democratic of Republican dogma.
“This is a bold call for nothing less than transforming American politics, and we’re so appreciative that [these lawmakers] have shown the courage and the leadership to help us launch this effort,” Manchin said. “We believe that if both sides of the political divide can get together and develop a shared vision for this country, the hard work of policymaking will be much smoother.”
No Labels has laid out the broad points of its agenda in the eBook, “No Labels: A Shared Vision for a Stronger America,” which as earned the endorsements of former President Bill Clinton and former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. In it, Huntsman and Manchin are joined by experts and politicians from both sides of the aisle, including well-known thought leaders from business, economics, and academia. Contributors include two former White House Chiefs of Staff; former OMB Director Alice Rivlin; Glenn Hubbard, Dean of Columbia Business School; nine members of Congress.
“Every year the President of the United States stands before Congress and the American people to deliver a State of the Union Address. What was once an opportunity for honest reflection on accomplishments and goals has become more of a laundry list than a speech—a grab bag of policy ideas, partisan rhetoric, and healthy dose of wishful thinking. Meanwhile, the gridlock in Washington means that virtually nothing in that speech will amount to anything but talk,” read a portion of the book’s summary. “Governor Jon Huntsman and Senator Joe Manchin, two of the most respected and straightforward political leaders in America, have a simple solution for Washington's gridlock. It begins with getting our leaders together at the table to agree to goals not just for their party but for the whole country. Stop having one party led by the president paint a single vision. Instead, create a shared vision for our country to aspire to—and then find a way to achieve it together.”