Prayerby Representative Steny H. Hoyer
Posted on 2013-05-15
HOYER. ``Address us'' overstates what I'm going to do, but I'm
always so pleased to be with all of you. And I was kidding on saying
I want to tell you frankly, on the Republican side, you guys look so much better than you did when we served together, and we want all of you back on our side of the aisle. We're voting to reelect you.
But I am so pleased to be here with all of you. I had the opportunity to say just a few words yesterday, but I particularly wanted to be here, and I don't [[Page H2613]] see my Republican Speaker here. I think some of you know that story. Ray LaHood was presiding, and it was the nineties, '95, early '95, and I went up to Ray. We had about--I forget exactly--199 Members at that point in time. I went to Ray and I said, ``Ray, if you can get 20 votes, I will get 199, and we'll elect Bob Michel Speaker.'' But we didn't do that, as you noticed historically.
But I fondly recall with you the days when we really did sit down and work together on a lot of things in a positive way and get things done for our country. We're not doing that as well this time, as you know. Ray would tell you that, working in the administration, but I particularly wanted to be here this morning.
I don't see Bob here. Is Bob coming? Ms. MORELLA. He is coming.
Mr. HOYER. Okay. Well, he is not here.
I'm a huge fan of Bob Michel's, but I'm also a huge fan of Ray LaHood's, and I know you're honoring Ray today, and I want to join with you in honoring him. Not only did he serve as a staffer in the House of Representatives, upholding what we're not upholding as much today, the integrity and the self-respect of all the Members here, to some degree denigrating this institution and Members--I lament that.
But Ray LaHood, as a staffer and as a Member of Congress and as a member of the President's Cabinet, has done some extraordinary work.
Ray, I want to congratulate you and thank you for all the positive roles you have played in moving this country forward. We're going to miss you from the Cabinet, but we don't expect to miss you from our lives, as so many here see. I want to wish you the very best.
Jack tells me he's now the president of a community college in New York. I said, ``Well, are you watching what we're doing?'' He said, ``Not much.'' That's why he's got such a happy look on his face--hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
Some of you were here when I came to the Congress in 1981, and some came with me. I came 5 months after you did, Dennis, and just a few months before Barbara came to the Congress.
So I want to say on behalf of all the leadership--hopefully on both sides of the aisle--I know that's the case.
And remember, I'm not going to drag my leg, but do you remember John Rousselot? Does that name ring a bell with you? Well, when I came to the Congress, John Rousselot probably was the Member that I had the most negative feelings about: John Birch Society, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Into about a year, I got to really think, John Rousselot is not a bad guy at all.
I don't recall whether you recall, but he used to smile at all of us as if to say, Okay, I've come over to your side and now I'm really gonna give it to you. And he did it with such a twinkle in his eye and such a positive. Jim Blanchard--Governor Blanchard, Ambassador Blanchard, all things Blanchard--is shaking his head. But that was a lesson to me, as it should be a lesson for all of us, to take people not on which side of the aisle they're on, not which side of the liberal-conservative range they may fall, not on some simplified newspaper story that you read, but on, as King said, the content of their character.
I think the more that we get to know one another, the more we understand why this body really does over the long term work. The only way you can get here is be elected by your neighbors, and they do pretty well. They're not perfect, we're not perfect, but they do pretty well, and they elect some really fine people Representatives of their districts.
The trick is for all of us to come together and work together. Your efforts here, I think, help in that regard. So, welcome back, and I look forward to seeing you, not just when the former Members come back. I see Connie all the time and Bev all the time, my colleagues from Maryland. And I saw Jim the other day, and we had a good talk. But come back, visit; and if I can help in any way, I want to do it, just as I will want those who succeed me after I leave to do the same.
So, Ray, congratulations to you. Thank you very much. And, to all of you, thank you for all you have done through the years, and thanks for remembering and coming back and helping our institution be all that it can be. Thank you very much.
Ms. KENNELLY. Thank you, Leader.
And now I would like to present the Honorable Connie Morella, president of the Former Members Association.
Ms. MORELLA. First of all, I want to thank, on behalf of all of us, Steny Hoyer for launching us this morning for this 43rd annual meeting that we had. Steny never really saw an aisle. He saw issues and compromise, and that's what we--the brothers and sisters who have been here--would like to see continued.
So, thank you, Barbara. It is always a distinct privilege to be back in this revered Chamber, and we appreciate the opportunity today to present our annual report of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress.
I'm going to be joined by some of our colleagues in reporting the activities and projects of our organization, but, first of all, I would like to ask the Clerk to call the roll.
The Clerk called the roll of the former Members of Congress, as follows: Mr. Alexander of Arkansas Mr. Buechner of Missouri Mr. Bustamante of Texas Ms. Byron of Maryland Mr. Carr of Michigan Mr. Clement of Tennessee Mr. Coyne of Pennsylvania Mr. DioGuardi of New York Mr. Edwards of Oklahoma Mr. Ewing of Illinois Mr. Frost of Texas Mr. Gordon of Tennessee Mr. Hertel of Michigan Mr. Hughes of New Jersey Mr. Johnson of Georgia Mr. Kennedy of Minnesota Ms. Kennelly of Connecticut Mr. LaHood of Illinois Mr. Michel of Illinois Mr. Moore of Kansas Ms. Morella of Maryland Mr. Quinn of New York Mr. Sarasin of Connecticut Mr. Tanner of Tennessee Mr. Turner of Texas Mr. Walsh of New York Mr. Wamp of Tennessee Mr. Zeliff of New Hampshire Mr. Spratt of South Carolina Mr. Largent of Oklahoma Mr. Blanchard of Michigan Mr. Hochbrueckner of New York Mr. Pressler of South Dakota Mr. Slattery of Kansas Ms. MORELLA. Thank you all for joining us today. Our association, as you know, was chartered by Congress, and one requirement of that charter is for us to report once a year to Congress about our activities. Today, therefore, is our opportunity to demonstrate to Congress that creating us over 40 years ago wasn't such a bad idea.
Before my colleagues and I describe our activities of the past 12 months, I want to focus on the second purpose of our meeting here this morning, and that is to bestow our association's highest honor on a former Member of Congress whose public service inspires us and who deserves our recognition. When you look at Ray LaHood's public service, you understand quickly why he was a unanimous choice and an easy choice for our board to make.
Ray LaHood has spent his entire professional life in service to either his community or to the country, or to both. He was a junior high school teacher, he was a member of the Illinois State Legislature, a congressional chief of staff, a Member of Congress, and now a member of President Obama's Cabinet. In Congress, he served on the Transportation Committee and on the Appropriations Committee. During his many years in Congress, Ray LaHood's approach to legislating was characterized by decency, reason, civility, and respect. He was a Member more interested in solutions and debate than politicking and scoring wins.
It is that credibility and integrity that made it easy for President Obama to appoint him to his Cabinet regardless of party label. We are so pleased that we can recognize his exemplary dedication via our Distinguished Service Award.
The inscription on the award reads: The 2013 Distinguished Service Award is presented by the United States Association of Former Members of Congress to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Ray LaHood's devotion to public service has taken many forms and has guided his entire professional life, whether as a teacher, a congressional staff member, a Representative, or a member of the President's Cabinet. In all these roles, he always put country [[Page H2614]] above party and solutions above politics. He was the arbitrator when a divisive debate required sensible leadership. He would find common ground when compromise seemed unattainable. Whether as a Member of Congress or as a member of the Cabinet, Ray LaHood has distinguished himself as a dedicated and exemplary public servant, and his former colleagues from both sides of the aisle salute him.
Washington, DC, May 15, 2013.
That is the inscription.
I am reminded of a statement from Shakespeare: ``the force of his own merit makes his way,'' and he has worked hard and deserves the recognition we are about to give him.
Later on in our program, we expect that a former leader, Bob Michel, will be coming here to say something about Ray LaHood, whom he loved and felt was sort of a mentor, and they're good friends, but he hasn't arrived yet. I do want to commence with giving the award, and then later, when Bob comes, we will recognize him at whatever point in the program.
So I am going to ask Secretary Ray LaHood to join me here at the dais and accept our association's 2013 Distinguished Service Award.
Secretary LaHood, we have also a booklet for you, which is here under this award, which I read word for word. The booklet includes letters sent by former Members and friends for you, saying how great you are. So, when you need that inspiration, you can just open the book and read those words. It is a great honor to present this to you, Ray. Congratulations to you.
Mr. LaHOOD. Thank you very much, Connie, and to the former Members.
Thank you so much to the association for this great honor that you do to me, and I know that, when you honor one former Member, we honor all Members. I am grateful to the association for all of the work that you do and for all of the encouragement that you give to people on college campuses, to young people, through the programs that you carry out year in and year out, and for the fact that the association continues to represent former Members and represent what is good about having served here.
I want to say a special word of thanks to my former Illinois colleague, Tom Ewing, for being here. Tom's district and my district were joined together, and we used to fly to Chicago and ride together, and he would give me a ride kind of near my district, and we worked together on some very important issues.
I also want to thank two of the people who I came to Congress with in the election of 1994--Zach Wamp from Tennessee and Steve Largent from Oklahoma. As you can imagine, when our class came, there were 73 Republicans and 13 Democrats, I believe, and the most famous in our class, God rest his soul, was Sonny Bono. We all thought that we were pretty important. You come with a Hall of Famer like Largent and others who were in our class, but every camera focused on Sonny. When we went out for our photo and when we were around, we all thought we were pretty important until Sonny showed up, and the media kind of gravitated towards Sonny. While in our first year here, Steve was actually inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Yes, he was a great football player out in Seattle. So I am grateful for the two of them coming and representing our class.
I also want to say a word about Nick Rahall, whom I thought maybe I saw here. He might have walked in. He and I worked on some Lebanon issues together.
Let me just say quickly that this bipartisan thing comes very naturally to me. The district that I represented was 20 counties in central Illinois. Nine of those counties were represented by Abraham Lincoln for one term in this House. So it comes naturally.
One of my predecessors was Everett Dirksen, who went over to serve in the Senate, who became minority leader, and who helped Lyndon Johnson pass the civil rights bill. We're going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights bill. Tom Pegram is writing a book about that, and he did a lot of research on Everett Dirksen. Some of you remember Dirksen. He was a fellow from central Illinois who did work with Johnson in so many ways to pass major legislation right after Johnson had been elected in 1964.
Then of course, Bob Michel, whom I served with as his chief of staff, was renownedly known for his bipartisanship. During the time that President Reagan served in the White House for 8 years, he got a lot of credit for doing a lot of major legislation; but what people forget is that Bob Michel was the leader for the Republican Party, which was the minority party then, but he was able to reach across and get some Democratic votes in order to get Reagan's agenda passed.
So this idea of bipartisanship, it's in the water in central Illinois. It comes very naturally. It really does. When I came here, I came with people like Steve and Zach and others. Some of our class ran on the idea of turning this place upside down and reform and all of that, and we came here after the Republicans had been 40 years out in the wilderness as the majority party. I came here, really, to use the House of Representatives as a way to solve the country's problems and to solve the issues and problems in central Illinois. I didn't come here to necessarily turn the place upside down. I thought the House was a place where you could really solve problems, but it only could be done if there were some compromise involved in what we did. That's the way that we tried to operate, and I think it's a good lesson for people to look at. The House really can be a place where you solve the Nation's problems and issues in your own districts, and that's the way I always looked at it.
I was very proud of the fact that I cochaired four bipartisan retreats. We started out with David Skaggs and then with Charlie Stenholm. Our first bipartisan retreat included over 200 Members, over 100 spouses, and over 150 kids. That's the first time that a congressional kid got to meet another congressional kid or that a spouse got to meet a spouse, and those friendships have lasted well beyond Congress.
My friend Jack Quinn, who is here, he and I were not in the same class, but we became friends, and we had friends on both sides of the aisle.
Look, I'm speaking to the choir here. You all know, and that's why you're here--you believe in the House; you believe in this organization; you believe that this is a place where you can have debates. But the bottom line is no problem gets solved--no issue ever gets resolved--unless it's done with compromise, unless it's done in a bipartisan way.
You can't name an issue, big or small, that was ever solved unless it was bipartisanship. Not one of us in this House, not one of the 435 gets their own way, not one of us.
Big things get done when people work together, and big legislation gets passed when people work together. That's the only way. That's the formula. I don't care what anybody says. If you look back on the storied history of this House any time that you served here, any issue that you dealt with where you could have a spirited debate, people could give great speeches. In the end, it was when people came together across the aisle that things got done, when big issues got solved. And it's true today.
During the time that I've had this privilege that President Obama gave me, we've been able to pass a transportation bill and an FAA bill in a bipartisan way. We've been able to do some things, but always in a bipartisan way, always with compromise. There is no other way under this system that we have. So to all of you that are gathered here and honoring me, we honor all of you. We honor this association.
Come on, Mr. Leader. Come on up here.
I know Connie probably wants to introduce him.
They've already said a whole bunch of nice things about me, Mr. Leader. Come on. Come on up here.
Let's hear it for our former leader.
Ms. MORELLA. I don't need to introduce this gentleman. You all know him. But I do want to say that he does exemplify what Ray LaHood has said about bipartisanship and drinking the waters of central Illinois.
The bipartisan spirit in which Bob Michel is held was recently exemplified at a 90th birthday party held for him. At that birthday party, the Democrats came in, the Republicans came in, and all the former leaders came in. It was a wonderful opportunity to see how this man is so respected and what he exemplifies.
As we've already given the tribute, it's up to you now to say something. He gave a great speech.
[[Page H2615]] Mr. LaHOOD. Say a word or two.
Mr. MICHEL. Good morning, everybody. Sorry I'm tardy. I thought we started at 9 o'clock, and I went downstairs in the Speaker's dining room there and I thought there would be a few of you for coffee or something. So I apologize for my very tardy entrance.
Have we got the cart before the horse here or something? Something is backward anyway. But I thank you folks.
You may or may not remember that Ray got his start out in Illinois with former Congressman Tom Railsback. Some of you older folks will remember Tom. He was in my local office there, and then during my tenure as leader, in the last 10 years of that leadership role, I had Ray serve as my chief of staff. And I tell you, he kept me out of all trouble. He knew right from wrong, and he knew this institution. He loved to see Members of both sides. I think we talked about that a number of times, to get to know everybody on your side for sure, but don't be afraid to cross that aisle and get to know personally as many of the Democratic Members as you possibly can. He did a marvelous job doing that.
So it was kind of natural when I left and retired, he ran for my seat and won handily, and during his 14 years of service was on the Transportation Committee and the Appropriations Committee. I thought one of the things that Ray wanted to get done, if he possibly could--he always sought a Democrat or two to join him--was having retreats for the newer Members to get to know one another personally and feel comfortable in dealing with them. That was the way, at least with any measure of success that I might have enjoyed--it came by the fact that you loved to visit with the Members on the other side of the aisle whenever it was possible. Ray did that to the nth degree.
But most important I think for me is that he's got a great moral compass and he knows right from wrong. I tell you, that's guided him during his public service time. Those of you who have served, any number of times there are things that come up in the office once in a while where you're thinking, Well, I'm not altogether sure about this. It may be good; it may not. Ray always knew the right choice to make. That made me feel comfortable. And if I enjoyed any measure of success as leader, boy, I owe so much to this guy.
I think that's what the President saw in Ray when he decided, after he was elected, that he was going to have a couple of Republicans serve in his administration. Of course, Bob Gates was Secretary of Defense, and then he picked Ray to be his Secretary of Transportation. And with Ray's experience and again that ability to be very sociable and likeable, he was a great success and was a good ambassador for the President in that position.
I think if we look back over that period of 4 years, that Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton, yes, were very popular and well-known, and, boy, I tell you, ranking right under them had to be Ray LaHood in his tenure as Secretary of Transportation.
He is a guy that really pushed safety. This idea of texting and talking while you're driving, boy, he made the case with the American public out there, and with some of those shady bus operators, when they were running into trouble, you know, Ray stepped right up there to bat. So I think it's just a wonderful thing that our organization would, by tradition, name someone of our former group to receive some special honor and recognition. Whoever makes the decision in the group these days, I personally thank you so much because he is my dear friend, and I don't think we could have made a better choice then Ray. Congratulations to you.
And since I got things backward, I was going to read the citation as I concluded. But obviously---- Mr. LaHOOD. Connie read it.
Mr. MICHEL. Oh, she did? Thank you.
Again, he prompted me correctly.
But in conclusion, thanks everybody. It's nice to see so many of you here.
Mr. LaHOOD. You obviously realize why Bob Michel was able to serve for 38 years. He's just a phenomenal human being. He's loved.
We had a 90th birthday party in our hometown of Peoria a couple of weeks ago, and over 300 people came to Bob's 90th birthday party. This is after he had left office for more than a decade. They came because of his service and the respect that they have for him, and we had a great day in Peoria honoring Bob Michel.
Again, in honoring Ray LaHood, we honor all of you and we honor the association.
Thank you all for what you've done to make this institution the great institution that it continues to be, and hopefully the few words that we said about how things really work and how to get things done will resonate a little bit through the hallways here for a moment or two. I know it won't be much more than a moment, but maybe somebody will pick it up.
Thank you to the association. I'm deeply honored. And I thank all of those who came this morning. God bless everybody.
Ms. MORELLA. That was a nice beginning of our annual meeting.
I'm now privileged to report to Congress about the activities of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress since our last meeting in July of 2012.
Our association is bipartisan. You've heard that over and over again, and you know that as you see the people who are here and listen to the words that have been spoken. It was chartered by Congress in 1983, and the purpose of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress is to promote public service and strengthen democracy abroad and in the United States. About 600 former Senators and Representatives belong to the association. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are united in this organization in their desire to teach about Congress and the importance of representative democracy. We're proud to have been chartered by Congress, and we receive no funding from Congress. All the activities, which we're about to describe, are financed by our membership dues, programs, specific grants and sponsors, or via our fundraising dinner.
Our finances are sound, our projects are fully funded, and our most recent audit by an outside accountant came back with a clean bill of financial health. Not bad, aye? It's been a very successful, active, rewarding year. We have continued our work serving as a liaison between the current Congress and legislatures overseas. We have created partnerships with highly respected institutions in the area of democracy building and election monitoring. We have developed new projects. We are expanding others. And we, again, sent dozens of bipartisan teams of former Members of Congress to teach about public service and representative democracy at universities and high schools, both in the United States and abroad.
When this organization was created over 40 years ago, the former Members who founded our association envisioned this organization to take the lead in teaching about Congress and encouraging public service. They were hoping that former Members could inspire the next generation of America's leaders. Well, over the years we have created a number of programs, most importantly the Congress to Campus program, to do just that.
We continue to work with our great partner, the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership. We thank them for their invaluable assistance in administering the Congress to Campus program.
I now yield to a former president of our association, Jack Buechner of Missouri, who, along with Matt McHugh of New York, cochairs this great program. So, Jack, if you would briefly tell us something about it.
Mr. BUECHNER. Thank you, Connie.
I welcome this opportunity to report on this outstanding program. As most of you know, the Congress to Campus program is the flagship operation of the former Members. It's a domestic program, and it also is an international program. It energizes and engages former Members from all over to come and join bipartisan teams of former Members. We go to colleges, universities, and even high schools across this country, and as I said, around the world, to educate the next generation of leaders about the value of public service.
Students benefit from the personal interaction with our association members, whose knowledge, experience, and accessibility are unique teaching tools. During each visit, our bipartisan teams lead classes, meet one on one with students and faculty, speak to campus [[Page H2616]] media, participate in campus and community forums, and interact with local citizenry. Institutions are encouraged to market the visit to the entire campus community, not just to those students majoring in political science, history, or government. Over the course of 2\1/2\ days, hundreds of students from all areas of academic studies are exposed to the former Members' message of public service and civility. The Congress to Campus program has always interviewed and surveyed the former Members and the campus contact to determine how the visit was so our program can continually improve.
This spring semester, the students are being surveyed both before and after the visit. That way, we can provide a way to determine the impact of the program on the students. By gathering this information, the Congress to Campus program can make a clear evaluation on what aspects of the program have the greatest effect, as well as provide tangible data to help find further funding for the program.
This program has also made a number of international visits this academic year, including two visits to the United Kingdom, one trip to Turkey, and one to Canada. Domestically, we had an extremely busy fall semester, coinciding with the elections. We had 13 visits across the country. The 2012 to 2013 academic year included visits to the United States Naval Academy, Palm Beach State College, Suffolk University, Pepperdine University School of Law, Boston University, Penn State, and the McGovern Center for Public Service at the University of South Dakota.
More than 30 former Members participated during this academic year, and I want to thank each of you who donated your time--pro bono--to this vital program. I also want to encourage our newest former Members and those who have not yet had the opportunity to consider doing so to encourage a friend from across the aisle to join you. It's an excellent opportunity to continue your public service after Congress.
You can also make a pledge to connect us with a host school, for example your alma mater, a college in your old district, or the university that your children or grandchildren are attending. Our staff will then follow-up with you to make the arrangements. Sharon Witiw runs the program and has all the information you will need.
As was mentioned earlier, we have continued our excellent partnership with the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership in the administration of this program. We owe a special debt of gratitude to Brother Rogers of the Stennis Center for his fine work. Our staffs work very closely together to make this program such a success.
As I briefly mentioned, the Congress to Campus program has an international outreach. On average, we send two delegations per year to the United Kingdom for one week, with dozens of universities and hundreds of British students studying foreign policy and the United States. Let me tell you, as a former Republican Member of Congress, during the height of the Iraq war, it was quite a challenge dealing with our continental friends. And now with the advent of ``House of Cards,'' U.S. version, and I might add the campaign with Will Ferrell, there are a lot of interesting questions coming from students about what it is we do and how we do it. Our former Members actually become quasi-ambassadors on behalf of the United States. They really get to engage with these students.
Recently, we also sent former delegation Members on Congress to Campus visits to Turkey. And just last month, former Members Jim Kolbe, Martin Lancaster, Lincoln Davis, and Ben Chandler spent 10 days visiting universities all over Turkey. This great project was made possible via a partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Federation of Turkic- American Associations, and we thank them very much for putting an extremely productive and, I might add, busy program together.
Just a heads-up to my colleagues: former Member participation in these overseas trips is based on how actively you participate in the not-as-glamorous domestic programs.
Since our last annual meeting, we have also continued our relationship with the People to People programs. That's an organization that provides hands-on learning opportunities for elementary, middle school, and high school students visiting Washington, D.C. On each visit, former Members meet and speak with students about the importance of public service--again pro bono--their personal experiences in Congress, and the value of character and leadership. In the spring of 2013, two speaking engagements were held in congressional panel format. The events take place on the Hill, and not only feature a former Member as a speaker, but also Hill staffers and interns. This gives students the opportunity to learn what it really is like to be in the Congress and work in the Congress. People to People visits are often in the middle of the business day, and we are grateful to those former Members who take time out of their busy schedules to connect with students touring our Nation's capital. It is greatly appreciated by them and by the association.
Finally, I want to say how grateful we are to all of those who have made this Congress to Campus program such a success in the 36 years it has been in existence. We want to strongly encourage you, our friends and colleagues here, to participate in the program, either by making a visit to a school or by recommending a school to the program. As you know, democracy can prosper only if its citizens are both informed and engaged. As former legislators, we have a particular opportunity and responsibility to encourage such involvement. This program is one of our association's best ways to give back to our community and our Nation.
Thank you very much.
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you, Jack. You're right, it's a great way for us to share our experiences and enthusiasm with the younger group coming into leadership.
Also, we thank Matt McHugh, your colleague, for the great job you've done with the program.
As you may recall, friends, from our last report to Congress, the association has put some energy and focus into this question of bipartisanship and civility in our political discourse. We are furthering this important work via the Common Ground Project. The purpose of the Common Ground Project is to involve citizens in a dialogue about the issues of the day, have a vigorous debate that's both partisan and productive, and benefit from the experience of respecting a different point of view.
Some of our existing undertakings already fit very nicely with this objective, for example, the Congress to Campus program that Jack Buechner just reported. And to give you more background about the Common Ground Project, I invite my colleague from Oklahoma, former Member Mickey Edwards, to share a report.
Thank you, Mickey.
Mr. EDWARDS. Thank you, Connie.
Now, Pete wrote this talk, and so I want to ad lib a little bit and say that, well, first of all, because it mentions my book, and I didn't put that in there.
But I had the opportunity very recently to give a speech at Bradley University, and I was so proud to start out my talk by saying how honored I was to be in the home of Bob Michel and Ray LaHood. And it just meant so much to me to be able to share that with them.
One quick comment to pick up on what Steny had said. One of the things I mentioned in my book is that every place you go to hear a speech, there's a lectern, except in this place, where there's a separate lectern for Republicans and Democrats. So I would paraphrase Ronald Reagan about tearing down this wall. Let's have one lectern, instead of dividing us into separate teams.
Everything we do at the Former Members Association is done in a bipartisan manner. Our leadership is comprised equally of Republicans and Democrats, our delegations are led by bipartisan teams of former Members of Congress, and our projects involve both Republicans and Democrats equally. We truly are a bipartisan organization where Members from across the political aisle come together for a common purpose.
We have found that, for a number of reasons, this type of bipartisan interaction has become more and more difficult for current Members, which is a great concern, I know, to every one of us. After we leave the Chamber today, we will participate in a full-day conference hosted by Senator John [[Page H2617]] Breaux, where we'll attempt to analyze some of the factors that go into today's dysfunctional political discourse.
This development has many causes, some of which are beyond the control of today's Members. Our association, therefore, has created the Common Ground Project, with the purpose of finding ways in which Democrats and Republicans can work together.
We decided to put some thought and effort into a structured program that could serve to foster a more civil and productive political discourse in this country. We hope to reconnect America's voters with their political process and encourage a respectful and productive debate on the many issues that we face.
Mostly, we achieve this outreach by working together with some of the many reputable and like-minded organizations across the country that are putting their energy and resources into this important topic. One such organization is the Concord Coalition, and we've had a number of events where former Members come together with either the public or with a university student audience to work our way through the Concord Coalition's excellent budget simulation.
Another example is our collaboration with the National Institute for Civil Discourse in Arizona. Together, our two organizations connected a bipartisan group of former Members with a bipartisan group of current Members to have a dialogue about what some of the causes might be that have led to a less civil and, therefore, less productive political climate.
We discussed the role of the media, the influence of campaign fundraising, the realities of our primaries. This was a very good discussion, and our goal is to continue this type of interaction, while expanding the number of participating Members. The next step in the partnership with the Institute for Civil Discourse is to identify congressional committees where there may be an opportunity for across- the-aisle collaboration and interaction. I think we call that getting back to the regular order.
We had such an event right after the November election to look at the role of money and the role of media in the elections. We had another one at the National Archives in the spring, based on my own book, ``The Parties Versus the People,'' where we talked about the hold that party politics has on our system of government; and we're hosting one tonight examining the interaction between Congress and the White House.
We can learn a lot from each other, and that is certainly what the Common Ground Project is all about. So on behalf of the organization, I invite my colleagues to become an active participant in this important dialogue, and I hope we will continue to have many opportunities to reengage the public when it comes to their representative government.
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you, Mickey. We very much value your participation.
And by the way, it's a great book, very provocative. I really thought you highlighted some of the very important aspects of what's going on in today's politics and what we need to do about it or think about. And I'm saying that without any cut in royalties.
But a great example of how powerful and productive bipartisanship can be is our annual Congressional Charity Golf Classic. It's chaired by our immediate past president, Dennis Hertel, and by fellow board member, Ken Kramer of Colorado.
I'm now going to yield the floor to Dennis Hertel of Michigan to give us a brief report about the Charity Golf Classic, which has been so successful.
Mr. HERTEL. I want to thank Madam President Connie for all that you're doing for the organization.
And I want to talk about the golf tournament, but the first thing I want to reassure everybody about this tournament is you don't have to be Tiger Woods to play. And I'm probably the best example of somebody who's not really a golfer participating all these years in this tournament.
It goes back 35 years. Remember, we used to play out at Andrews Air Force Base. And Bob Michel, our great leader, I remember when Bob Michel beat us on this floor in 1981, and we still all liked him on this side of the aisle. Bob Michel and Tip O'Neill were there for our tournament; and it was a very quiet tournament, a private tournament at Andrews Air Force base.
And then, because they changed the rules here in the House, and all the rest, to attract current Members, but mostly, as our other endeavors to do something for others, we established this charitable tournament 6 years ago to help the wounded warriors.
And with Zach Wamp and others, we used to meet in Zach's office, as cochair. We got more active Members, current Members to play. And this year we've got over 20 current Members signed up. Our problem, our former Members: we only have a handful, so we really need more of you to participate in this to go forward.
It's going to be July 22 at the Army-Navy Country Club, so we've gone up as far as where we're playing the tournament. And they've just redone the entire club, and it's fantastic. The courses are new, and the clubhouse is brand new. It really is beautiful.
During each of our past tournaments, we've had dozens of current and former Members from both sides of the aisle come together, and they have met with dozens of wounded warriors, many of whom give ball- striking demonstrations or play in our foursomes, and they're just tremendous young people.
They have even had double amputees included in their numbers who hit further and straighter than a lot of our Members, certainly much better than I. And it's an incredibly humbling, rewarding, and memorable experience to spend a day in the presence of these inspiring men and women.
Last year we had two outstanding current Member honorary chairs: Joe Baca of California and Ander Crenshaw of Florida. And I want to thank them, as well as Ken Kramer, our association's cochair, for all they've done to make our tournament such a success.
I want to thank Joe Baca, who didn't return for the 113th Congress, for how much he did as far as his energy in getting Members to play and to go forward with our tournament.
Now we have Congressman Mike McIntyre of North Carolina as our Democratic cochair, who's just been tremendous in being a fusion to get current Members to play.
And we're so fortunate to have Jimmy Duncan from Tennessee, who a lot of us served with in the Congress, to be our Republican cochair. There's just no better invaluable supporter than Jimmy Duncan getting current Members to play.
I want to thank our sponsors for their generous contributions, and particular thanks to DSUSA and the PGA for being such steadfast and important partners. And PGA wants to take it up another level and get more professionals to play with us and to participate and to become a greater sponsor.
It's really an honor for us to help our Nation's heroes in this small way. Again, the next tournament is July 22. This tournament can only be successful if our Members, both current and former, give it their time and attention. Please let us know if you can play. We would really like to see you July 22.
Ms. MORELLA. Thank you, Dennis.
Ms. KENNELLY. The Chair recognizes the distinguished Speaker of the House, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Boehner).