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How’s It Playing in Peoria? The Journal Star Newspaper Has the Story

The Journal Star in Peoria, IL, is out today with an article on the resolution introduced by U.S. Reps. Darin LaHood and Dan Lipinski to create a Joint Committee to fix Congress. The article hits the nail on the head right from the start:

There may not be much Americans agree on this political season — or any other — but a general disdain for Congress is near the top of the list. Understanding why is easy: constant gridlock, delayed action on issues, personal conflict between members, crucial matters remaining unaddressed, the lowest number of bills passed and signed into law in decades.

Both Reps. LaHood and Lipinski are from Illinois; they are also, respectively, a Republican and a Democrat. It’s that kind of bipartisan cooperation that will help right the ship in Congress. It’s also what’s been sorely lacking for too long and has thus created an environment in which lawmakers cannot legislate. The latest fight over funding the federal government, which wrapped up earlier this week when the U.S. House and U.S. Senate agreed to yet another continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open through early December, typifies what’s wrong. Here’s what Rep. Lipinski said:

Americans understand that the legislative process is not working when they see Congress continually waiting until the last minute to address major issues, and sometimes not acting at all as we saw with the government shutdown a couple of years ago. Just this week, we pushed to the brink of a government shutdown and then put off action on spending for (the new fiscal year) until the lame duck session after the election.

Congressional Institute President Mark Strand also spoke with the Peoria paper, noting the history of Joint Committee “that successfully led to reforms in 1946, 1970 and 1995.” From the article:

It’s the one way Congress has always successfully made major changes. … Every 20 years or so, the system starts to break down. … The way Congress has always (worked on fixing that) was through this joint committee.

Congress is now in recess, and although lawmakers will come back after the November elections for a lame-duck session, it’s not expected the Joint Committee will be a priority. But the resolution should be re-introduced in January as the incoming Congress will face the same low approval levels from the American public as the outgoing one. But, as Rep. LaHood said, people ask what he’s doing to fix Congress, and the Joint Committee is “a way that internally we can address this problem.” The article notes that former Senate leaders Tom Daschle and Trent Lott and former House Minority Leader and longtime Peoria Congressman Bob Michel are supporting the Joint Committee.

Go here to read the full article.

Go here to learn more about the Congressional Institute’s Joint Committee reform project.

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