Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Teamwork Freshman Lawmakers Form Group to Tout Civility, Push Bipartisanship

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Teamwork Freshman Lawmakers Form Group to Tout Civility, Push Bipartisanship

Article excerpt

Even if their senior colleagues can't get along, new members of Congress believe they can - and might actually teach their elders something along the way.

Since arriving in Washington, first-year legislators have remarked how unimpressed they've been by the partisan storm swirling about them - the wrangling over the speaker's ethics controversy, the questionable taping of a telephone conversation about the matter, the sniping between Capitol Hill and the White House.

Weeks of comments and of tentative feelers between newcomers in both parties finally blossomed Wednesday into a collaborative effort to change things. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., and Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla., presidents of the freshmen classes of their respective parties, joined forces to say that if grown-ups are going to act like children, the newcomers plan to fill the void. "We want to announce our intent to get together across party lines to tackle the enormous problems that face our country - and hopefully to instill some of that spirit among our senior colleagues as best," Davis said. Added Hulshof: "We have witnessed a lack of civility - perhaps it's up to us to sow the seeds of civility . . . and quiet the firestorm." The first issue they plan to tackle is campaign finance reform, through a 12-member task force, six members from each party. Those members joined Hulshof and Davis for Wednesday's session. Changing campaign finances was chosen because they have just learned firsthand the problems of campaigning - the expense, the financial and political indebtedness, the negative attacks. "We all ran in 1996 and we all won - but we recognize that the American people deserve better," said Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine. For the first time in his district, national groups ran television ads to influence the election, said Allen, who will head the panel with Rep. …

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