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Joe Manchin: Breaking the Gridlock - No Labels Unveils Sweeping Action Plan to Make Congress Work!

December 19, 2011

No Labels, a group of Republican, Democratic and Independent citizen leaders, opinion makers and former lawmakers today released a sweeping action plan to help make Congress work again. The proposal is composed of 12 ideas aimed at achieving three overarching objectives: breaking gridlock, promoting constructive debate and reducing polarization in Congress.

A recent poll commissioned by No Labels showed that a staggering 94 percent of registered voters believe congressional gridlock “is hurting the U.S. economy” and the same proportion of respondents (94 percent) said they completely agree or somewhat agree with the notion that “the U.S. would have a better standing in the world” if Congress were less gridlocked.

The same poll showed that 89 percent of voters believe “things are being log jammed” in Washington, as opposed to a mere 11 percent who believe “things are getting done.” But an overwhelming 82 percent of those polled would favor changes to congressional procedures to “streamline some of the procedures” – a clear mandate for action.

“From my earliest days in Congress, I’ve been a proud supporter of what No Labels is trying to accomplish,” said Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). “The people of West Virginia don’t want Democratic solutions or Republican solutions. They want American solutions. I’m proud to be part of No Labels’ work to bring people together and make Washington work better.”

“No Labels has a very important role to play by offering the strong platform of ideas to ‘Make Congress Work,’” said Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT). “I really do believe that more bipartisan approaches in the way we do business around here can have a profound impact on what we are able to accomplish as an institution.”

“It’s time to put politics aside and put our country first,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN). “We need Washington to work again for the people. This action plan is a first step toward necessary reforms to put trust back in government.”

The official release of the proposal is the first step in No Labels’ campaign to get all lawmakers to support its action plan and pass it as quickly as possible. The group will dispatch citizen leaders from across the country to take action in their respective cities and states by urging friends, family and co-workers to contact their member of Congress urging them to support the No Labels platform.

The 12-point action plan No Labels is as follows:

Breaking Gridlock
1. Members of Congress will be docked pay for each day that they fail to pass the budget and all appropriations bills for the next fiscal year before the prior fiscal year ends.

2. All presidential nominations for executive and judicial positions must be confirmed or rejected within 90 days after the Senate receives the completed nomination.

3. Fix the filibuster: If senators want to halt action on a bill, they must take to the floor and hold it through sustained debate; end filibusters on motions to proceed to debate.

4. Empower the sensible majority by reforming House and Senate procedures to fast-track legislation with majority support.

5. Change the congressional work schedule so that Congress can get the American people’s work done.

Promoting Constructive Discussion
6. Institute a regular “question period” that brings Congress and the president together.

7. Institute an annual report to a joint session of Congress on America’s fiscal condition, coordinated and delivered by a high-ranking non-partisan official such as the Comptroller General.

Reducing Polarization
8. Members of Congress should be bound by no pledges except the Oath of Office.

9. Institute monthly nonpartisan gatherings in each chamber (off the record).

10. Eliminate partisan seating in all joint meetings or sessions and on committees and subcommittees.

11. Form a nonpartisan Congressional Leadership Committee.

12. Incumbents of one party should not conduct negative campaigns against members of the opposing party, but members are free to campaign in support of candidates from their own party. (Open seat elections would be exempted.)

No Labels laid out the entire 12-point plan in its new policy book, “Make Congress Work,” on how to make Congress work again. The book is meant to offer guidance not just for lawmakers, but also for Americans who have signed on to help bring change. Approximately 400 citizen leaders join the group in Washington on Tuesday for the launch of its new action plan.

With the help of these citizens, lawmakers and other prominent leaders, No Labels hopes to change the system in Washington so that Congress will begin to forge real solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems.

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