Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke this morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Association for a Better New York where she blasted the lack of bipartisan cooperation in Washington and announced her plan to introduce a campaign finance reform plan that will take on the Super PAC’s.
“It’s the same sense of common purpose that’s shared in this room today that we frankly need so much more of in Washington. With an economy that has been slow to recover and truly an economic crisis that’s rivaled only by the Great Depression,” Senator Gillibrand said. “What do we see in Washington? Unfortunately, endless gridlock, endless political posturing, endless partisan bickering. I haven’t been in Washington very long, but I’ve been there long enough to know that it is broken.”
According to Senator Gillibrand, the situation in Washington has become even worse since she last spoke at an ABNY event in 2009, shortly after she was appointed to replace Hillary Clinton as New York’s Junior Senator. She cited the recent impasse over the payroll tax extension as evidence of the deteriorating climate in Congress.
“In the three short years since I’ve stood with you, I’m sorry to say that Washington actually has become more dysfunctional. Just look at how Congress ended the last session; another deadline, another manufactured crisis by the House of Representatives, who are either unwilling or unable to govern,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Rather than protect 150 million middle class Americans from higher taxes, including thousands of families across this city and state, there were House members who would prefer to play high stakes poker.”
Senator Gillibrand contrasted the divided culture in Washington with New York, where she said people often come together and find ways to solve their problems. She said New York’s representatives in Congress also shared that “spirit of a common goal.”
“When we’re looking at that jobs crisis in Washington, we have to look for that spirit–that spirit of a common, shared goal, common values and bringing together common beliefs that make a difference in how we are going to solve these kinds of problems,” Senator Gillibrand said. “And I’ve seen that. I’ve seen us make the difference in policy and moving things forward by finding those core common values. We did it with the 9/111 health bill–Senator Schumer, our Congressional delegation led by Chairman Rangel, all of us came together and we focused our efforts on what we agreed on.”
Senator Gillibrand also referenced the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a moment when politicians in Washington managed to come to an agreement.
“We came together to repeal that discriminatory policy based on the core belief that people should be able to serve this country and die for this country because they’re Americans,” said Senator Gillibrand.
Despite her dim view of the current culture in Washington, Senator Gillibrand said she’s optimistic politicIans will be able to make some compromises when Congress reconvenes later this month.
“I know that we can find these common, core values in Washington because we’ve done it time and time again,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Not just with the 9/11 health bill and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but in some areas of policy there are so much that we share in common.”
Specifically, Senator Gillibrand cited national security and the health and safety of children as areas where she expects politicians to be able to find common ground. On the security front, Senator Gillibrand said she hoped to see Congress be supportive of Israel and tough on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Senator Gillibrand also said she hoped to see politicans work together to address children’s nutrition and to strengthen pilot training programs through new FAA regulations.
Senator Gillibrand also said she has high hopes for her bill to ban insider trading by members of Congress and their families.
“I believe we can pass a very strong bipartisan bill on that issue this year,” she said.
The Senator also announced plans to introduce a campaign finance reform that will stop special interest groups from spending “unlimited amounts of money through advocacy without any disclosure.”
“I’m working on a reform plan that I’ll be announcing later this month that will make sure we can actually monitor and control the amount of money that can be raised and spent on federal elections, including independent expenditures through the Super PAC’s,” Senator Gillibrand said.
Senator Gillibrand’s also said she hopes to increase transparency in government by putting more information on the internet and making sure “every document, every public document, every community vote, every Congressional research report is searchable on the internet for the public to see.” She said this type of internet database will take Washington ”out of the dusty basements and the dark ages.”