Congress Losing Another Constituency

Attention, Congress. You lost the approval of the American public a long time ago, but you're in danger of losing a key part of your base: Washington think tanks. "This is the first time we've branched out beyond Washington," Maxmillian Angerholzer III, president and CEO of the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress said as his organization feted its 2015 Publius Award winners, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat. The award was presented at the group's annual dinner Wednesday night at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. The Publius Award is named after Federalist Papers authors James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay who signed their bylines simply, "Publius." It is given to those the organization identifies as demonstrating "leadership and bipartisanship in government." It goes back more than a decade and has typically gone to someone along the lines of past recipients such as Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mark Warner, D-Va. Not this year. "No disrespect intended to the members of Congress, but I do hope this Congress can get its act together," McAuliffe said. That disclaimer, "No disrespect intended," or something like it, was a trope among the speakers. Still, it belied a frustration that makes it difficult to bestow honorifics with a straight face to those inside the Beltway. Among the guests at the dinner were Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., Mike Bishop, R-Mich., and Suzan DelBene, D-Wash. The ghosts of congressional moderates past were represented at the dinner in the form of ex-Reps. Glenn Nye, D-Va., and Daniel B. Maffei, D-N.Y. They provided a reminder of the difficulty of rising above partisanship, having both been swept out of office in GOP waves. In Maffei's case it happened twice! For Congress, perhaps the upshot of the night was encapsulated by McAuliffe. "You have to have thick skin," the former Democratic National Committee chairman said. The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.