After a thought-provoking workshop at NFWL’s 2016 Annual Conference, the innovators at Democracy Fund are leading the conversation on how to eliminate congressional gridlock. Their pragmatic solutions transcend the federal government and can be applied in local, municipal, and state governing bodies.
When we at the Democracy Fund Voice set out to identify the roots of congressional dysfunction through our systems mapping project, we didn’t worry too much about making our case. Fewer than 2 percent of the bills originating in the House of Representatives become law; nearly two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey of Washington-based congressional staff reported that they were looking for new employment; and fewer than 10 percent of Americans recently polled by Gallup say they have a great deal of trust in Congress. Clearly, Congress needs help. The question is what to do about it.
What does reversing obstructionism and overcoming gridlock look like? It should include the following:
1. Congressional members who collaborate openly on a bipartisan basis.
2. Use of the committee process to draft legislation. (Remember that?)
3. Rewarding members for legislative efforts– not just partisan loyalty– and not penalizing those who work across the aisle to advance substantive legislation.
4. No hamstringing other branches of government through politically motivated crises.
5. Budgets passed on a regular basis.
6. Prompt votes on the confirmation of presidential nominees.
7. Effective and regular oversight of federal programs.
8. Conference committees to reach agreement on any differences between House and Senate legislation.
9. Appropriations bills completed before the end of the fiscal year.
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NFWL participated in the Hour of Code at our 2016 Annual Conference, but the event would not have been possible without the support of Fueling U.S. Forward, whose next step is to Find a Way to Improve Everyone’s Life.
If you need a plumber, would you settle for “any and all” plumbers or would you rather have “the best plumber”?
Obviously, for such a basic necessity as plumbing, most of us would prefer to use the very best. But then why do we not apply this same standard to other basic necessities—such as energy?
Too often, we hear politicians on both sides of the aisle use the term “all of the above” to describe America’s energy policy. This is shorthand for the belief that we should use any and all energy sources to meet our country’s energy needs.
This sounds great in theory, but it’s actually quite harmful in reality. Just as not all plumbers are created equal, some energy sources are better than others.
We can’t simply swap domestic oil and natural gas for wind and solar and expect to maintain the standard of living to which we’ve become accustomed. Slogans like “all of the above” ignore the physics behind why we use fossil fuels to meet 80% of our energy needs—they are the most abundant, reliable, and affordable energy sources in the world. On the other hand, wind and solar are, at best, supplements: they only work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.
It’s time we stop settling for “any and all” energy and instead seek to use the very best energy sources that satisfy our appetite for modern life.
Click here to learn more about Fueling U.S. Forward.