The man in the middle | Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 20, 2006

The man in the middle

Posted By on Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 1:48 PM

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor offers a statement today on "bipartisanship and progress." He'll be interesting to watch as we're now in his election cycle, albeit the very early part of it. The op-ed piece is on the jump.


Americans sent a very clear message to the President and to Congress on Election Day. For too long, Washington has let politics cloud progress on legislation that could make a big difference in our daily lives. Access to affordable health care has become limited. Consumers have been paying record prices at the pump while big oil has posted record profits. And our troops and their families have been stretched thin.


The call for change is finally resonating in the halls of Congress, and many lawmakers are listening for the first time in a long time.  As a result, I believe we’re going to see the progress, accountability and transparency people deserve from their government. Cooperation and bipartisanship will be at the root of this new direction. In Arkansas, we know that talking to one another is more effective than talking at one another.  We also know that no political party has a monopoly on good ideas; it’s more important to take the best ideas from all sides and turn those proposals into law. This is a well-tested philosophy that I have used to pass laws that benefit our veterans, seniors, children, taxpayers and farmers and bring more infrastructure dollars to our state.


That’s why I’m helping to foster better relationships among my colleagues in the Senate.  Last week, I helped lead Senate orientation to familiarize newly-elected Senators with the Senate’s rules, history and life in Washington. On day one, I used this opportunity to change the partisan environment for new Senators.  Throughout orientation, I integrated sessions on bridging the political divide where old and new members could share how to build working relationships and friendships across the aisle. I discussed how working together the bipartisan “Gang of 14,” which I am a member of, allowed the Senate to get back to business and pass major energy, highway and other bills.  By the end of the week, it was evident that Senators – Republicans and Democrats alike – wanted to put behind a bitter campaign season and govern together in order to move forward positive legislation for their own state and the nation.  In the coming weeks, my Chief of Staff will lead a similar orientation for incoming senior level staff. He will try to cultivate bipartisanship in much the same way we did.  


There are a number of great challenges facing our country today. We must put progress ahead of partisanship. I will continue to build on the Senate orientation and bring Senators together through bipartisan coalitions and even the Senate Prayer Breakfast I co-host each week. I am optimistic the 110th Congress will have a different tone and will result in fair and productive governing to move our nation in a better direction.


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