WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Division in Washington continues, even after the shooting of a high-profile congressman. But some members of Congress are calling for an end to the sometimes-hateful rhetoric. One Louisiana congressman says the harsh dialogue needs to go.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) says more civil dialogue leads to better public policy.
“We all lamented, all of us that the level of public discourse has declined so much,” said Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA).
Johnson signed a “Commitment to Civility” alongside almost every freshman member. He says things need to change in Washington.
“It’s effectively like a contract between one another. We’ve all committed to mutually respect one another, to disagree in an agreeable manner,” said Johnson.
Tensions are high as the Trump administration and Republican-led Congress roll back efforts of the previous administration, and as they attempt to pass hefty legislation like an “Obamacare” replacement. Johnson says this effort is not a publicity stunt, but a gateway to crafting better policy.
“If the dialogue breaks down, then... the productivity breaks down as well. The only way for us to get together and forge the best public policy is if we’re open to listening to one another's’ ideas and trying to hammer this out together,” said Johnson.
Johnson says no one person is responsible for bad behavior on Capitol Hill. David Hawkings from CQ Roll Call says it’s a combination of pressure from voters and a lack of understanding.
“They don’t think of themselves as being in it together in anyway and they don’t spend any time together,” said Hawkings.
Hawkings says it is a basic rule of politics that members always act in their own best interests.
“They get rewarded by their donors and by their base of supporters for just excoriating the other side. That’s what works, so that’s what they’re going to do,” said Hawkings.
Johnson says he expects hundreds more lawmakers to sign the commitment in the coming weeks.