Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low, and with good reason. Partisan finger pointing and institutional brokenness have led to gridlock at a time when the country most needs solutions. The Blue Dog Coalition understands that in order to fix our fiscal problems and grow the economy, we must reach across the aisle and find common ground. We must also reform the current institutional culture that rewards extremism and hinders bipartisan compromise.
The Blue Dog Coalition supports redistricting reform efforts that will end political gerrymandering. Redistricting reform has been a longstanding priority of the Blue Dogs that has spanned both Republican and Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives.
The John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act
H.R. 223, the “John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act,” introduced by Mr. Barrow from Georgia, takes the politics out of congressional redistricting by requiring each state to establish an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw congressional districts. The legislation also prohibits a state that has been redistricted after an apportionment from being redistricted again until after the next apportionment, unless ordered by a court to comply with the U.S. Constitution or enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and sets minimum standards for states when redrawing congressional maps.
“Partisan gerrymandering is leaving moderates and independents across the country without a voice in Washington,” said Congressman Barrow. “Folks on the extreme left and right are overrepresented in Congress and are only adding to the gridlock. Taking the politics out of redistricting will help to ensure that Americans get the representation that adequately reflects their views, not an elected official chosen by manipulating district lines,” said Rep. Barrow.
The Redistricting Transparency Act of 2013
H.R. 337, “The Redistricting Transparency Act of 2013,” introduced by Mr. Cooper of Tennessee, requires each state to hold open hearings and publish a public website with data on Congressional districts, so that the public may participate in the system by which district lines are drawn.
“Less than a quarter of House districts are truly competitive because they’ve been drawn to favor one party. Republicans and Democrats are guilty of gerrymandering and of keeping voters in the dark about redistricting,” said Rep. Cooper. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant. No one should be against transparency.”
News Release: Barrow, Cooper Lead Blue Dogs in Effort to End Gerrymandering
NO BUDGET, NO PAY
Blue Dogs support the idea that Members of Congress should not get paid until they do their job and pass a budget. Blue Dog policy co-chair, Rep. Jim Cooper, introduced the No Budget, No Pay Act, H.R. 310, which would require Congress to pass its budget and all appropriations bills by October 1st of every year, the start of the nation’s fiscal year. If Congress fails to pass both a budget and all of its appropriations bills on time, then Members of Congress will not get paid until they do so.
A version of the No Budget, No Pay Act was signed into law as part of the latest debt ceiling, or "fiscal cliff," deal. The bill withholds Congressional pay for members of the House and/or Senate should either chamber fail to adopt a budget resolution by April 15.
"The idea behind No Budget, No Pay came from a Nashvillian who approached me two years ago," said Cooper. "He said, 'I don't get paid if I don't do my job, and do it on time. Why should Congress be any different?' I agree, and this bill makes Congress follow the same rule that every American understands: do your work if you want to get paid.