Photo by George Lauby
Photo by George Lauby
Enough is enough, Sen. Bob Kerrey said Friday, it’s time for the Americans to demand more of Congress.
Kerrey introduced what he calls the George W. Norris Constitutional amendment, which says:
“Congress shall write rules so as to elect its leaders and organize itself in a non-partisan fashion. Members shall be limited to 12 years of consecutive service and shall be permitted to enact legislation limiting the amount of money that can be spent by themselves or outside groups on Congressional campaigns.”
“If these 45 words become a part of our Constitution, I promise you that Nebraskans will see more solutions and fewer slogans, more problem solving and fewer problems created,” Kerrey said.
Kerrey repeated the proposal Saturday during an appearance at the North Platte Regional Airport.
"The Norris amendment would assure the public that government is still by, for and of the people," he said.
Kerrey said the Constitution can be changed, recalling that in 1971 it took only 18 months to pass a Constitutional amendment to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18.
Throughout his campaign, Kerrey promised to invoke the spirit of George Norris and shake up Washington. In a March 31 interview with the Bulletin, he said Article 1 of the Constitution needs to be amended.
The fifth section of Article 1 says: "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings," but Kerrey said the leaders of Congress have approved the privilege.
Party caucuses have too much influence over individual senators, he said. Senators and representatives meet informally in caucuses and agree to work together to accomplish goals. The caucuses are led by Congressmen and women with the most years in Congress, who are appointed to chair committees.
“Congress is broken and it is the destructive tendencies of Washington that are to blame,” Kerrey said Friday. “Voters expect far more of their elected officials than to merely serve as the tools of special interests.”
Kerrey cited James Madison, a founding father who warned of “factions” that can control and/or stop government. Madison warned of “the violence of faction."
Kerrey said the current rules of Congress do not control factions, but reward them.
“When factions -- partisan interests -- control government, everyone loses, because our common purpose is subordinated,” he said.
“In his farewell address, George Washington warned that service to the ‘will of a party’ would ‘make the public administration the mirror of ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans,’” Kerrey said.
In other comments, Kerrey told the Bulletin that the race is tightening. His Republican opponent Deb Fischer has said she has a 20-point lead.
"I think we're doing well," Kerrey said. "It's getting tighter down the stretch, during the time that people are paying the most attention."
Kerrey and Fischer will debate twice in a four-day time period -- on Sept. 28 and Oct. 1.
The Sept. 28 debate will be from 11 a.m.-noon at the Omaha Community Playhouse, sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and KETV. It will be carried live on MeTV on Cox Channel 123 or over the air Channel 7.2. and be rebroadcast at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 on KETV.
The Oct. 1 debate will be from 7-8 p.m. in the Nebraska Educational Television studios in Lincoln. It will be broadcast live on NET1 television, NET-HD television and NET Radio.