Manchin co-chairs No Labels movement

Sen. Joe Manchin is the honorary co-chairman of No Labels – a group seeking to build bipartisan cooperation in Washington.

But Manchin, D-W.Va., wonders if the art of compromise has evaporated in Washington’s political climate.

“You’ve got 75 percent of the congressional districts that are bulletproof, and people (members of Congress) don’t have to compromise,” he said. “If they take the hard left or the hard right, that’s the district they represent and they think they’re OK. If you’re just thinking about yourself and your politics … I guess you’ll be fine if you just leave it like it is.

“But sooner or later you’re going to want to do something, or why in the world are you here? I would think people would have better things to do with their lives than not getting anything done,” he continued. “They’re supposed to be representing the government and moving it forward. To sit there and watch it deteriorate … you might as well be watching paint dry.”

Manchin and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, are the honorary co-chairmen of No Labels. On its website, the group says it is “dedicated to promoting a new politics of problem solving” in Washington.

“This is the only venue I know of in the two years I’ve been here that I have a chance to sit down with my colleagues – not just with Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate, but also my colleagues in the House – who are absolutely as frustrated as I am and want to solve the problems of this country,” Manchin added.

No Labels has about “30-40 members” from among the 435 members of Congress, according to Manchin. The group provides them the opportunity to build relationships and trust among their colleagues, he said.

The only criteria for lawmakers joining No Labels is that when there is a difficult decision, they must be willing to put their country first above their political party or own self-interest. Manchin said No Labels will be looking to the business and industry sectors to help pressure the House and Senate to compromise and make Congress work.