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Heard on the Hill: No Labels Floats Kumbaya Caucus

Circumventing time-sucking filibusters? Arranging regular presidential-Congressional powwows? Abolishing vitriolic re-election ads?

That’s what the comity-seeking No Labels organization is after with its nonpartisan plan to “Make Congress Work.”

Released Tuesday, the plan is broken into three parts — breaking gridlock, promoting constructive discussion and reducing polarization — and implores Members to push aside ideology to get things done.

“It doesn’t matter how good policy ideas are. If Congress isn’t working, the ideas won’t become reality,” asserted Bill Galston, a No Labels co-founder and Brookings Institution fellow.

That sounds fine and dandy to us, but the finer points of the plan sound amazingly unfeasible, such as docking Congressional salaries if the nonbinding budget resolution isn’t passed on time each year. Or requiring the House and Senate to coordinate schedules so they’ll be in town at the same time (see: 2011 and 2012 legislative calendars).

Rep. Bruce Braley, a No Labels backer, held out hope that incremental change could be achieved.

“The reality is it won’t come into fruition unless there is a significant cry from the public,” the Iowa Democrat said. “You may agree that they are not all viable, but you still need to make steps towards changing the culture.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) echoed that optimism in an official statement: “We’re trying to put civility and commonsense solutions back into governing.”

Other Congressional supporters include Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), as well as Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.).

One point we can see coming true: bipartisan seating arrangements. If it worked during this year’s State of the Union, it could work again.

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