PARKERSBURG - A group encouraging problem-solving without political bickering will gain influence with House and Senate leaders when its ranks grow larger, said a West Virginia senator who co-chairs the organization.
"Trust me, they will talk, they will listen," said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Manchin and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are honorary co-chairmen
of the group formed two years ago on the premise problems must be solved without the politics between Democrats and Republicans. On Monday, Manchin and Huntsman, a Republican who ran for president, were in New York City in a meeting attended by 1,300 supporters and advocates.
Twenty-five Democrat and Republican representatives and senators and one independent have joined the problem solvers caucus. No Labels hopes the caucus will reach 75 or 80 by the end of the year, Huntsman said.
That many lawmakers who leave their political egos at the door would be enough to impact the outcome of votes, and that's when the Senate and House leaders will heed what the caucus says, Manchin said during a press conference with Huntsman and West Virginia reporters on Tuesday morning.
That's when the leaders in the House and Senate will take notice, Manchin said.
"The leadership is not going to be interested because they have control now," said Manchin, who plans to speak to his colleagues in the Senate and with the delegation from West Virginia about joining the caucus.
"We don't have that critical mass yet of problem solvers," Huntsman said.
Congress is dysfunctional and that makes the nation dysfunctional, Huntsman said. The prolonged political disagreements on financial issues, particularly the national debt, leads to uncertainty in the financial markets, he said.
Among the No Labels proposals for encouraging cooperation between the lawmakers is to deny their pay until a budget is passed, reform of the filibuster rules, a quick yes or no vote to confirm nominees for presidential appointments, routine regular financial reports to the House and Senate, bipartisan meetings each month of congressmen and seating in Congress without regard to political party.
No Labels also proposes a question time with the president in a British-style Q and A.