House freshman class Presidents Luke Messer and Matt Cartwright have pledged to their newbie colleagues to create more opportunities for new lawmakers to come together, doing so at a bipartisan, joint address at a Congressional Research Service seminar earlier this month.
At the seminar, Messer, an Indiana Republican, said he heard CRS staff lament the separation between the parties, saying the first weekend of the year would likely be the only time members of both parties would be together. Messer said that both he and Pennsylvania Democrat Cartwright’s class president campaigns included a pledge to increase dialogue between the parties in the House. “It’s far harder to demonize someone that you know,” he said. “I also know that members of Congress are incredibly busy, so you have to organize.”
Messer is quick to remind us how unique his freshman class of lawmakers is in that the partisan split is so close. “This class cross section from both parties indicates that the public expects that we work together, and I think it starts with basic civility,” Messer said. “We do agree that in order to work together, we have to know each other.”
According to the Allentown Morning Call’s Pennsylvania Ave. blog, at least one CRS employee was impressed, claiming that it was the first time she’d witnessed this type of gesture in her 20 years attending the seminar.
“We’re starting off on the right foot,” Cartwright told The Morning Call.
Messer and Cartwright’s plan is a simple one. “Essentially, we want to put together a couple social times with marquee speakers and try to have gatherings,” Messer said.
We’ll check back in to see how things are going during the debt ceiling/sequester/continuing resolution talks.