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70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents

70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents
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Seventy former senators drafted an open letter to current members of the chamber proposing a new bipartisan caucus amid the current era of aggressive partisanship.

These 70 former senators said Congress is “not fulfilling its constitutional duties" with “much of the responsibility” resting on the Senate. They write that the upper chamber is not functioning “as the Framers of the Constitution intended" in the letter, which was published by The Washington Post.

The letter's writers, who include former Sens. James Buckley (R-N.Y.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEverybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big MORE (D-Ind.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Tanden's path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable MORE (R-Ariz.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampCentrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports MORE (D-N.D.), John KerryJohn KerryClimate change rears its ugly head, but Biden steps up to fight it Recapturing the spirit of Bretton Woods The Iran deal is fragile — here's what the Biden administration can do MORE (D-Mass.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Memo: Punish Trump or risk a repeat, warn Democrats GOP senators criticized for appearing to pay half-hearted attention to trial Hawley watches trial from visitor's gallery MORE (D-Mo.), lament what they call the disintegration of legislative authority, saying Congress over the years has given too much power to the executive and judicial branches.

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“The Senate’s abdication of its legislative and oversight responsibilities erodes the checks and balances of the separate powers that are designed to protect the liberties on which our democracy depends,” the senators wrote. 

They also mourned that it takes 60 votes to “pass anything in the Senate” now, calling it “new and obstructionist” that the same number of votes for “the once relatively exceptional event of a filibuster” is now essentially needed to pass any legislation. 

“By design, the Senate is the place where Americans with all their competing interests and ideologies are represented and where champions of those positions attempt to advance their causes and work through their differences,” they said.

The former senators said a bipartisan caucus of incumbents would allow senators to participate in “meaningful committee work.” They also ask that current senators push for legislation and compromise amid the partisan disagreements, acknowledging doing so could risk their careers but would “advance the cause of a ‘more perfect union.’”

“We, who once held the office you now hold and who are confident that service in the U.S. Senate is as high a calling for you as it was for us, will stand up for you against any partisan opposition. We will do so publicly and repeatedly in whatever available forums,” the 70 former senators wrote.

“The Senate — and the proper functioning of our Republic — are simply too important to be allowed to continue on their present course,” they added.