“Middle America is being ignored by Washington and the media. Centrists are desperate for a voice today; they feel entirely unrepresented. ”
According to Real Clear Politics, Congressional Job Approval is at 14%. That’s up a few notches from the historic low recently polled at 9%. 78% of Americans disapprove of Congress. That’s a ridiculously dismal number. Throughout its 223 year history Congress has had its ups and downs. But not even in times of reported corruption has it been so unpopular.
The dysfunction in Congress is jaw dropping. The Senate, where gridlock and dysfunction occur most often, has not passed a budget in 1,097 days. Passing a budget is its most important priority, yet it can’t even do that.
We elect these people to represent us and do the people’s work. But the only work they seem to be doing is finding ways to win the next election. We should be irate and demand action, not gridlock and dysfunction.
Senators Carl Levin and Lamar Alexander, one Republican and one Democrat, have joined forces to propose a common sense solution to political gridlock in the Senate. In a Washington Post op-ed they argue:
“Senate rules require, at most steps of the legislative process, agreement from all 100 senators; absent unanimous agreement, they entail a time-consuming process that requires a supermajority of 60 senators to move forward. Such rules protect minority interests. The Senate’s constitutional function is to rein in the haste that can grip other institutions in our federal system. But if every senator exercises his or her rights at once, nothing happens.
One area in which the Senate has had a hard time reaching unanimous consent is how to deal with amendments. Frequently, senators in the majority think those in the minority introduce amendments to delay bills or raise extraneous issues. Those in the minority think the majority unduly restricts consideration of amendments. The result is often gridlock.
We propose an approach that should be useful on many pieces of legislation: If the minority members would allow the majority leader to bring a bill to the floor for a vote without the 60-vote process, the legislation would be open to all relevant amendments but not to nonrelevant amendments…
In exchange for allowing a bill to come to the floor without the 60-vote exercise, every senator would agree to limit consideration of amendments to those relevant to the bill before us. Vigorous and extended debate on the substance of important bills would still take place. Senators would have ample opportunity to offer amendments. But our proposal would give senators a more effective way to deal with the issues voters expect us to consider and would help restore public confidence in the Senate.”
This is a common sense solution that is smart and effective. It was used to pass major reforms to the United States postal service, proposed reforms that had been languishing in the Senate for months. We the people must demand more common sense collaboration and compromise like this. If we do not, Congress will continue to not work for anyone, Republicans, Democrats, or Independents.