The relaunch of the group “No Labels” captured headlines this week.
And like its debut two years ago, the grassroots organization was immediately dismissed by elements on the far right and far left as naive, feckless and irrelevant.
That’s too bad because the organization that espouses problem-solving over partisanship in our federal government is exactly what Congress and the country needs right now.
The organization held a news conference Monday to announce its new co-chairs, former Republican Utah governor Jon Huntsman and Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and a 24-member “Problem Solvers Caucus” made up of Democrats and Republicans from both houses of Congress.
The group also unveiled several new proposals for building more cooperation among lawmakers, including filibuster reform, regular fiscal reports to Congress, monthly bipartisan meetings of Congress, bipartisan seating in Congress, and a British-style “question time” for the president.
No Labels is perhaps best known for its backing of a “no budget, no pay” proposal — a plan that would deny paychecks to Congress unless they pass a budget and all annual spending on time.
The organization is also requiring an “up or down” vote on presidential appointments and expedited rescission authority for the president, which would give similar power to the line-item veto authority that enables 44 state governors to remove provisions from spending legislation.
The No Labels agenda is a collection of simple, straightforward, commonsense proposals — many of which already enjoy broad bipartisan support — that would be an antidote for congressional dysfunction. They would also serve to promote constructive discussion and reduce polarization in Congress.
Before Congress can solve the country’s problems it needs to solve its own. The No Labels solutions are a start.