Many wondered if U.S. Rep. Tom Reed meant what he said about bipartisanship during his recent campaign.
With federal government shenanigans at an all-time high, many voters wanted to elect someone to the House of Representatives who wouldn't just be a local mouthpiece for Republican or Democratic party leadership. Reed was adamant, when debating Democrat Nate Shinagawa in front of The Post-Journal's editorial board, that he would cross party lines to do what was best for his constituents.
Just this year, Reed has worked with Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin, on a bill to help open Canadian borders to more U.S. dairy products. Reed is also co-chairman of the Manufacturer's Caucus with Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat. Such bipartisanship is easy, though. It's hard to find any politician - Republican or Democrat - who wants farmers to go out of business or manufacturers to fail.
Again, that kind of bipartisan action is easy.
Recently, though, Reed made an even bigger stand for bipartisanship by joining the No Labels group, a bipartisan group that includes 50 House of Representatives members. The group's house membership is nearly evenly split between political parties and has members from nearly every geographic region.
The No Labels group has some interesting suggestions, including no pay for members of Congress if a budget hasn't been approved; filibuster reform; allowing a bipartisan majority of committee members to override a leader or committee chairperson's refusal to bring a bill to the floor; a monthly forum for members of Congress to ask the president questions or to force leaders to debate one another and defend their ideas; a nonpartisan report on the nation's finances so that all legislative leaders are working from the same numbers; off-the-record, monthly bipartisan gatherings so members are talking across party lines; bipartisan seating at joint meetings or sessions of Congress; and creation of a bipartisan leadership committee to discuss legislative agendas and substantive solutions.
We note none of the major Washington power players, and only four senators, are members of the No Label group, meaning it will be difficult for even the most minute of No Label's suggestions to ever see the light of day.
The group is worth having, though.
As anyone who pays attention to Washington politics knows, the only way to solve many of the nation's problems are finding some middle ground solutions - and it's difficult to find that elusive middle ground when Republicans and Democrats aren't in the same room.
Kudos to Rep. Reed for doing more than simply saying what voters wanted to hear.