Braley: More potlucks could bring more progress in Congress

Incumbent Congressman speaks to Downtown Rotary; Lange coming in two weeks

Breaking the partisan gridlock in Congress may be as easy as Jell-O.

“I’m convinced that if we had more potlucks in Congress we would get more done,” U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley said Monday. “If you get to know somebody, it’s harder to go out onto the floor and demonize them.”

Braley, 54, a Waterloo attorney serving his third term, told the Cedar Rapids Downtown Rotary the success he has had in Congress is a result of working with Republicans to move legislation.

Specifically, Braley, who faces a rematch with Republican Ben Lange, an Independence attorney, said passage of the Andrew Connolly Veterans Housing Act was the result of working with the Republican chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

His “Plain Language” bill, which rates federal agencies on how well they remove the legalese from their communications with the public, was another example he cited.

He said he found early on that the best place to get things done is the House gym, where no one cares whether you are a Republican or a Democrat.

“Developing strong relationships with people on both sides of the aisle, we can work to get things done,” he said.

Still, Braley was not optimistic that the next session of Congress will be less partisan than the current session.

After the election, Braley said, there will be very little time to deal with several major issues facing the nation, including automatic spending cuts and the Farm Bill.

Given the two-year terms of House members, “the battle for control will begin as soon as we are sworn in,” he said.

“Whoever the president is, he will have a very short window of opportunity to bring people together,” Braley said.Braley’s challenger, Lange, will speak to the service club in two weeks.