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Senate Centrist Coalition

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The bipartisan Senate Centrist Coalition in the U.S. Senate, a legislative service organization, was "created by Senators John Chafee (R-RI) and John Breaux (D-LA) in 1995 after the government shut down to bridge the partisan divide and foster common-sense, consensus-building solutions in the Senate." [1]

Mission

According to Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), "The Centrist Coalition is a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans seeking common ground and compromise on issues. ... The Centrist Coalition helps to bridge the two parties ... It brings together progressive national policy initiatives while promoting growth for businesses and increasing personal responsibility for Americans. Most South Dakotans are not left or right-wingers, but instead are right down the middle -- they simply want their government to work well and efficiently. The Centrist Coalition is a good step toward bringing the parties together." December 7, 2000.

Influence

In a March 3, 2005, press release, Antonia Ferrier, Senator Snowe's press secretary said that "'The coalition was started after partisan conflicts between a Republican Congress and President Bill Clinton over balancing the federal budget briefly shut down the government in 1995. Since then, the group has generally met weekly to 'exchange ideas' and have 'open and frank conversations' in a civil manner about complicated issues ... The group does not have an official membership, but a core group of about 15 senators usually attends,... In past years, the coalition has come up with alternative budget programs,' Ferrier said.

"The group also exerted influence in helping to push for enactment of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, said Sandy Maisel, director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

"Maisel said the members who frequently attend the coalition's meetings 'have the potential to have a great deal of influence' in the current Senate which is closely divided with 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and Jim Jeffords, a Vermont Independent who usually votes with the Democrats.

"'All they need is a swing group of about six or seven, and then they can be very influential,' he said." [2]

Leadership: 109th Congress

On November 12, 2004, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) and Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) "announced the formation of the Senate Centrist Coalition for the 109th Congress. Lieberman will be replacing Senator John Breaux (D-LA) as the Democratic co-chair with Snowe serving as the Republican co-chair." [3]

  • "Sen. Snowe became co-chair of the Senate Centrist Coalition after the death of Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island in 1999." [4]

Snowe and Lieberman also announced that the following week, they would "convene a meeting of the Coalition to discuss plans for the 109th Congress, and ways to advance legislation in the months ahead, and discuss the Coalition’s agenda and organization.

"'As we look toward the next Congress and the issues that will likely be on the Senate’s agenda, the importance of consensus-building has grown even greater. The serious foreign and domestic challenges our Nation faces demand that we transcend partisanship to find common ground and practical solutions that unite mainstream Republicans and Democrats alike. The Centrist Coalition provides a critical forum for members to meet and craft solutions that can garner broad-based support across the political aisle,' Snowe and Lieberman said in a joint letter to their colleagues." [5]

On November 16, 2004, Senators Lieberman and Snowe announced that Senators George V. Voinovich (R-OH) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) had "agreed to serve as Centrist Coalition Republican and Democratic Vice Chairs, respectively." [6]

According to Senator Voinovich upon his appointment, "We need to put aside the obstructionism that in the past has prevented the Senate from completing essential work. The highway bill, the energy bill and judicial nominations all fell victim to partisanship deadlock. It’s my hope that the 109th Congress will see a renewed commitment from senators on both sides of the aisle to working together to get the job done and the Centrist Coalition can play an important role by encouraging bipartisan dialogue. I’m honored to have been selected to serve as vice chairman and I look forward to contributing to fostering greater bipartisan cooperation in the next two years." [7]

Coalition Members (107th Congress)

  • Democrats
  • Republicans

Coalition Members (109th Congress)

  • Evan Bayh (D-IN)
  • Tom Carper (D-DE)
  • Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)
  • Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Kent Conrad (D-ND)
  • Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Judd Gregg (R-NH)
  • Jim Jeffords (I-VT)
  • Herb Kohl (D-WI)
  • Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
  • Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT)
  • Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
  • John McCain (R-AZ)
  • Ben Nelson (D-NE)
  • Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • Mark Pryor (D-AR)
  • Ken Salazar (D-CO)
  • Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME)
  • John Sununu (R-NH)
  • George V. Voinovich (R-OH)

Third Way Senate Advisory Board Members who are also Senate Centrist Coalition Members

  • Evan Bayh, Senate chair
  • Tom Carper, Senate chair
  • Mary Landrieu, Senate vice-chair
  • Blanche Lincoln, Senate chair
  • Mark Pryor, Senate vice-chair
  • Ken Salazar, Senate vice-chair

Source: Third Way website.

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

Other "pedia" Info

  • "Senate Centrist Coalition" in the Wikipedia: "The name of the Senate Centrist Coalition is 'Third Way,' subtitled, "A Senate-Focused Progressive Advocacy Group." As of November 2004 it was chaired and co-chaired by Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-AR), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR)."

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