Former Congressmen Urge Return to Bipartisanship

Monday, 01 Aug 2011 04:24 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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The acrimonious debate that enveloped Washington over raising the nation’s debt ceiling has cast a negative light on Congress and a return to bipartisanship is crucial, according to an organization of former congressmen.

Rep. Dennis Hertel, D-Minn., president of the Former Members of Congress Association (FMC), says Congress needs to return to an era of compromise and cooperation.

“For me, and more than 600 former Members of Congress who are part of our nonprofit organization, we strongly urge the House and the Senate to put their political wrangling aside and do the right thing for our country and the American people,” said Hertel. “At the same time, while the American people are rightfully frustrated with the political process and Congress in general, it’s important to also recognize that most of us who choose to serve are there because we deeply care, and strive to make a difference.

"When I was a member of Congress, we worked tirelessly to pass legislation that would improve the lives of all Americans,” Hertel added. “Of course we had many political differences, but rather than vilify those who disagreed with us, we instead respected those differences, and avoided the personal attacks that we are seeing today.”

Former Rep. Jack Buechner, R-Mo., who serves on FMC’s executive committee, agrees:

“There is no doubt that Members of Congress, whether current or former, have answered the call to public service so that they can make our nation stronger and better. This should be what unites them, not what divides them,” Buechner said. “I have every faith in the system and I believe that at the end of the day we will see Democrats and Republicans of all stripes come together to find a way out of the current crisis.

“But I am concerned with the highly belligerent and acrimonious tone this debate and many other debates preceding it have taken — we are very close to the point where Members are so convinced of their own positions, they have completely lost the ability to find even an inch of common ground,” he said. “That is worrisome to me, but more importantly it is worrisome to our allies, investors in America, and most of our citizens. Perhaps, most destructively, it denigrates Democracy as a role model for a world in transition.”

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