As you may have heard, congressional leaders just announced an agreement on a new package of COVID-19 relief. But you may not have heard that members of the House and Senate whom No Labels has aided and encouraged were principally responsible for this agreement.
Here’s how they did it: Throughout the spring and summer and well into the fall, Democratic leaders in the House and Republican leaders in the Senate developed dueling legislative proposals. Negotiations between these leaders broke down, as did talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. It appeared increasingly likely that the 116th Congress would adjourn without delivering desperately needed assistance to unemployed Americans, struggling small businesses, health care providers, schools, and many others.
Then rank-and-file members of the House and Senate took over. In the House, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus founded by No Labels years ago began to work on its own proposal, as did an informal bipartisan group of senators whom No Labels helped bring together more recently. Remarkably, these legislators worked together across not only party lines but also across the deep institutional divide between the House and Senate. Bicameral meetings organized by No Labels helped create the relationships that made these conversations possible, and then effective.
These intense efforts, which took place over more than a month, produced agreements, first on a legislative framework and then on actual bills. As they were publicly released, these agreements broke the logjam. Other members of the House and Senate began to endorse them as the best way forward, and the leadership soon had little choice but to restart negotiations. Although completing the deal took additional weeks, the final agreement reflected both the shape and the size of the proposal the bipartisan, bicameral group had offered.
The new agreement announced today is a genuine compromise of a kind rarely seen in today’s Washington. The bill spends much less money than Democrats wanted, and much more than Republicans wanted. Its provisions expire later than Republicans wanted but sooner than Democrats preferred. It does not include aid for states and localities, which most Democrats favor, and most Republicans oppose, or protections for businesses against COVID-19 lawsuits, where the opposite is the case. And at the urging of the White House and senators on the left wing of the Democratic Party and the right wing of the Republican Party, it includes direct payments to all Americans, regardless of their circumstances.
The bill represents not only a victory for hard-pressed Americans but also a quiet revolution against ways of doing business that have dominated Washington for much too long. Over the past generation, power has flowed away from committees and individual members of the House and Senate and towards the leaders. Most important bills have been drafted by the leadership behind closed doors, and rank-and-file members often have no opportunity to offer amendments. As leaders gave priority to maintaining party unity within their caucuses, the legislative process ground to a near halt.
The COVID-19 bill is completely different from most recent legislation. Its framework was drafted from below, not from above, by individual representatives and senators who gave priority to producing real solutions and who were willing to make compromises to reach vital agreements. The relief bill elevated practicality above partisanship and purity by focusing on problems—such as unemployment, small business closures, and inadequate funding for school reopening and vaccine distribution—where a foundation of consensus existed on which legislative agreements could be built.
For more information on No Labels visit https://www.nolabels.org/
If you missed the presentation on December 4th about the Nuclear Weapons Policy in the upcoming administration , you can still test your knowledge with this short quiz. Answers are at the bottom (no peeking).
1. Which Iranian Nuclear scientist was assassinated last week?
Answers: 1) c, 2) d, 3)a, 4) b, 5) d, 6) c, 7) b
These delectable treats are not for the faint at heart! Find out what some of the world's weirdest food are and where you can get them. One is actually made in the US. Click here to the top ten.
The Fall Forum discussion group has kicked off their season by studying the book, Has China Won?. Click here to view a short video showing the author, Kishore Mahbubani, discuss his book and the reasons he thinks China may have won the great power rivalry.
In honor of our Keynote speaker, Ambassador Doug Lute, former United States Permanent Representative to NATO, we have some NATO and other current event trivia to keep you busy on this rainy Monday afternoon. See how smart you and your friends are! Answers are at the bottom, but no peeking!
1) Who is the current US Representative to NATO?
A) Victoria Nuland B) Kelly Craft C) Kay Bailey Hutchison D) Bruce Heyman
2) Who is the Secretary General of NATO?
A) Jens Stoltenberg B) David Maria Sassoli C) Ursula von der Leyen D) Rishi Sunak
3) What country is NOT a member of NATO?
A) Albania B) Portugal C) Turkey D) Sweden
4) The Chinese owner of TikTok chose_________ to be the app’s technical partner for US operations.
A) Google B) IBM C) Microsoft D) Oracle
5) What Kremlin backed group has started a new disinformation campaign, just as it did in 2016?
A) Anonymous B) Fifty Cent Party C) Internet Research Agency D) Internet Information, Inc.
6) The normalization agreements recently signed by Bahrain, Israel and United Arab Emirates at the White House are officially known as the __________?
A) Solomon Accords C) Ishmael Accords D) Moses Accords 4) Abraham Accords
7) Which world leader issued a pardon for Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine convicted of the 2014 killing of a transgender woman?
A) Nicolas Maduro B) Imran Khan C) Rodrigo Duterte D) Recep Tayyip Erdogan
8) China’s leader, Xi Jinping, surprised many by pledging that China would meet which environmental goal by 2060?
A) achieve carbon neutrality B) improve air quality by 75% C) eliminate the manufacture of plastics D) reduce coal mining by 75%
Answers: 1) C 2) A 3) D 4) D 5) C 6) D 7) C 8)A
Sources: 1. nato.int, 2. nytimes.com, 3. slate.com
The new Eisenhower Memorial set to open this week in Washington, D.C. If you are going to Washington in the future (or want to visit virtually), you may want to see the new Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, honoring the 34th President of the United States. Dedication Ceremonies start this Thursday. Click here to see the website.
You might enjoy viewing a recent Sister Cities International video which includes remarks by President Eisenhower on the importance of citizen diplomacy.
Dear WACHH Members and Friends,
These past months have been a time of change with many challenges. We started the 2019-2020 Program year with record membership and high attendance at our first ten Friday Speaker events. We also successfully completed Fall Forum, the Model United Nations (MUN) conferences and Academic WorldQuest (AWQ) competition, three Evening Speaker Series events, and most of the Great Decisions discussions. Then, Island life came to an almost full stop.
As we look to the 2020-2021 Program Year, we will begin our Friday Speaker presentations using high-quality webinars until First Presbyterian Church can once again welcome us in-person. Our new lineup of 14 outstanding speakers will provide valuable insights for a new or continuing administration, unique views on global issues, and expertise on technology and cyberspace.
We know you value the experience of being part of a large, local audience interacting with fellow Council members and asking thoughtful questions. We recognize that remote technology is not a complete substitute, but we are committed to offering the best available webinar format with an interactive Q&A for members to participate in real time. So, keep your enthusiasm as we bring you excellent speakers addressing critical topics of our times.
Currently, we are proceeding with Fall Forum and Great Decisions with the hope that these small groups will be able to meet in safe surroundings. The Evening Speaker Series is in the planning stages and Model UN and Academic WorldQuest await school decisions as to their start dates. Thank you, loyal and understanding Council members.
We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we begin an exciting new program year. Stay safe and healthy!
In lieu of our Annual Meeting this year given COVID-19 restrictions, we have decided to publish an Annual Report. We hope members will enjoy reading this summary of Council programs. Download a PDF of the report.
Looking for some interesting books to get you through this pandemic? Here are a few new books about world affairs to consider reading in your spare time this summer.
Spoiler alert: Richard Stengel and Matthew Kroenig are two of the 14 speakers that are coming to speak at WACHH’s Friday Speaker Series this year.
Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It
by Richard Stengel
Disinformation is as old as humanity. When Satan told Eve nothing would happen if she bit the apple, that was disinformation. But the rise of social media has made disinformation even more pervasive and pernicious in our current era. In a disturbing turn of events, governments are increasingly using disinformation to create their own false narratives, and democracies are proving not to be particularly good at fighting it.
The Return of Great Power Rivalry: Democracy versus Autocracy from the Ancient World to the U.S. and China
by Matthew Kroenig
The United States of America has been the most powerful country in the world for over seventy years, but recently the U.S. National Security Strategy declared that the return of great power competition with Russia and China is the greatest threat to U.S. national security.
Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne ApplebaumA Pulitzer Prize–winning historian explains, with electrifying clarity, why elites in democracies around the world are turning toward nationalism and authoritarianism.
The World: A Brief Introduction
by Richard HaasAn invaluable primer from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, that will help anyone, expert and non-expert alike, navigate a time in which many of our biggest challenges come from the world beyond our borders.
Exercise of Power : American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World
by Robert GatesFrom the former secretary of defense and author of the acclaimed #1 best-selling memoir, Duty, a candid, sweeping examination of power in all its manifestations, and how it has been exercised, for good and bad, by American presidents in the post-Cold War world.
Jonatan Vseviov, our Global Speaker on May 1, 2020, wrote on the "Challenges of Real National Defense" for International Centre for Defense and Security (November 2018):
National defense is a whole. In the course of its development, a number of decisions may be taken which are right when taken separately but, as far as the big picture is concerned, lead to a dead end. The result is hollow national defense that exhibits grand words and structures, while either partially or completely lacking in real combat power. An ineffective paper army is also useless for deterrence.
Estonian national defense is focused on the deterrence of potential threats, but first and foremost on their prevention through the use of a convincing deterrent posture. Deterrence is a process in which one side tries to convince the other that taking a certain step is inadvisable, as it would be detrimental to it. If one country wishes to prevent an armed conflict with another, deterrence does not need to convince a potential attacker that the attack would fail – it is sufficient for the attacker to believe that the cost of even a successful attack would in the end prove higher than the value of the desired goal.
Read the full article (Download PDF)
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