Sen. Joe Manchin has come up with three initiatives to encourage a stronger bi-party! spirit in Washington.
In the first initiative, he says Republicans and Democrats should sit next to each other at this year’s State of the Union address, because it wouldn’t completely smack of politics.
In a letter sent this week to President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the West Virginia Democrat urged Washington’s SuperFriends to mandate the same bi-party! seating arrangement that swept last year’s SOTU in the wake of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting that left Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition.
As for initiatives two and three, Manchin asks the leadership for some kind of crazy bi-party “forum” where lawmakers from different parties could speak to each other and search for legislative common ground.
Interesting idea, sir. If only there was some place for Members of both parties to gather to debate “issues” and “common ground.” We can’t even think what that might look like (cough cough: the super committee, the floors of both chambers, every committee meeting, the Longworth Cafeteria).
Manchin also urges Congress to hold a monthly bi-party caucus and invite the president to attend, because there is nothing Republicans respond to more than a chance to speak to and compromise with the president.
Poor Manchin. Maybe he’s just blocked out the entire past year? We certainly can’t blame him, but, the fact remains, 2011’s SOTU bi-party! did, um, nothing to encourage a bipartisan spirit in either chamber.
Indeed, the place looked more like a set-up for a zany 1980’s sitcom or a Noel Coward play rather than a serious move towards bipartisanship
How do we know?
Well, for pretty much all of 2011, Congress was embroiled in some decidedly un-bi-party behavior, including several continuing resolution showdowns, a debt ceiling disaster, the super “You’re a Disappointment to All of America” committee and the end-of-year payroll tax holiday stand-off.
But, who knows? Maybe this time it will work? After all, don’t they say the second time’s the charm? Well, um, actually, literally no one says that.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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