Reps. Shimkus and Allen
April 23, 1997
in this forum:
How much work is done in committee? Have Republicans lost their spirit? Is Congress obsessed with scandals? Is there too much
grandstanding in Congress?
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A question from John Boehle of New York, NY:
I realize that members of both parties generally regard grandstanding to be the most expedient route to gaining national media exposure. I just wonder how much consideration they give to what it is exactly that they're exposing. Rather than all of the silly back-biting to which the American public has grudgingly become accustomed, how about a little comity? a little civility? Members who earnestly displayed such traits -- and in so doing, actually managed to get a little work done -- would make heroes of themselves and I should think garner media coverage beyond the dreams of narcissus.
Representative Allen responds:
Recently, the majority of House members went on a bipartisan retreat to restore cooperation and civility between members of opposing parties. Those of us who went to Hershey, Pennsylvania, found the retreat rewarding. I believe we are making progress in restoring civility, at least compared to the atmosphere of the last two years. It is worth noting that former Representative Frenzel (R-MN), who will be testifying at the Bipartisan Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform on which I am a co-chair, has remarked how impressed he is to see the level of bipartisanship. He stated that a voluntary task force on campaign finance reform would never have proceeded beyond the first meeting in the past. I am pleased that this task force which I co-chair with Representative Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) has met several times and will be sponsoring two public forums in the immediate future. We're making progress on the road to greater civility, but we have a long way to go.
Representative Shimkus responds:
I would think so too, John, but unfortunately the media does not cover politicians that work hard in a bipartisan fashion. The media, for mahy reasons, looks for controversy, action, and exciting issues that attract viewers and readers. I don't intend to be a "grandstanding" politician and will always try to work for the good of the nation. In fact, I just recently attended a bipartisan retreat in Hershey, PA with 190 other members of Congress where we talked about comity and civility in the House of Representatives. Finally, I would say that our founding fathers set up our government to allow verbal battles to be fought, and while most people rarely win in a fight, verbal fighting is better than bloodshed any day.