A Three-In-One-Out Plan to Reduce Washington Gridlock

It’s long past time to fix America’s broken political system. In that spirit, No Labels will be introducing a list of Congressional reforms that will substantially reduce hyper-partisanship and gridlock in Washington -- thereby allowing for common ground to be found and solutions reached.

 

We are proposing real governance reforms that our elected officials can easily vote upon and implement within 24 hours. Over the next week, here on PolicyMic.com, we will be introducing a reform a day for your feedback and comments. Then, on December 13 we will announce our package of rule reforms. So starting today, we hope you will help us identify the best solutions that the No Labels community can support in 2012 and insist our leaders implement, if elected.

 

It should go without saying that Washington is in dire need of reform. Twice in the past three months Americans have counted down to a potential government shutdown. Only 9 percent of Americans still have confidence in Congress and in August, S&P downgraded our long-term credit rating based on skepticism over Washington’s ability to put our fiscal house in order.

 

America’s rising debt is accompanied by a deficit of leadership. Elected officials in Washington understand that government has serious problems, but they are unable to find solutions. Bill after bill is halted by hyper-partisan gridlock, weighed down by meaningless amendments, and doomed to never being rationally debated, let alone passed.

 

Through it all, we’re lucky if members of Congress even show up for work. The House of Representatives normally starts its work week on Tuesday and ends on Thursday. The Senate sometimes does have a full work week and hold some sessions Mondays and Fridays, but those sessions are largely pro forma, or strictly formalities. Senators don’t have to show up. In fact, in 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives has only two weeks where it is in session for five days: one in September and one in October.

 

Members of both houses might fly in on Monday night or Tuesday morning and fly out Thursday night during a typical week. That’s eight plane trips a month for which you, the taxpayer, are footing the bill.

 

That’s why, for our first reform, we’re proposing Congress have three weeks in session, one week out. Three-In-One-Out is a plan that would keep members of Congress in Washington for three weeks each month and send them back to their districts for one. That’s just one round-trip plane ticket. Perhaps most importantly, the schedules for both the House and Senate would be in sync -- so each body would be in session at the same time.

 

Our leaders should be working in Washington or be back in their districts, not constantly racking up frequent flyer miles.

 

What do you think? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation about No Labels’ proposed congressional rules reforms.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


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William Galston

William Galston is a Co-Founder of No Labels and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. A former policy advisor to President Clinton and presidential candidates, he is an expert on domestic policy, political campaigns, and elections. His current research focuses on designing a new social contract and the implications of political polarization.

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