04/11/2013 04:04 PM
BATON ROUGE – The annual LSU John Breaux Symposium heads to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 15, for a daylong discussion among former
members of Congress and congressional scholars on ways to make Congress work again.
This year’s symposium, sponsored by the Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media &
Public Affairs, is co-sponsored by the United States Association of Former Members of Congress and George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. The symposium will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the City View Room of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
Former U.S. Sen. John Breaux, from Louisiana, will moderate the symposium’s opening session, a discussion of practical
ways for Congress to work more cooperatively. That session will include former Senate
Majority Leaders Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Tom Daschle, D-S.D., former Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., former Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., former Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Okla. and Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash.
“Most agree that Congress is broken and many members have either forgotten or never
learned how to transcend party labels and ideology to get things done,” said Robert
Mann, director of the Reilly Center. “The purpose of this symposium is to discuss
and agree upon a series of practical steps that members, new and old, could take to
break through the partisan gridlock.”
“Former members of Congress have a unique ability to share their perspectives on what
works in Congress, and what doesn’t, without fear of political consequences,” Breaux
said. “These former leaders will provide valuable ideas about what today’s Congress
needs to do in order to be more effective.”
"We are thrilled to participate in this important and timely discussion,” said Peter
M. Weichlein, CEO of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress. “Our membership
includes about 600 former senators and representatives from both parties, many of
whom are skilled practitioners when it comes to reaching across the aisle to get things
done. We understand the challenges that come with the job and we hope that our contribution
can be of value not just to the symposium, but also to current members in this Congress
and the next.”
“Congress’ founding principle is to make democracy work for all Americans, but in
an increasingly polarized environment this has become more difficult than ever,” said
Kennedy, who currently serves as the director of the Graduate School of Political
Management at George Washington University. “This symposium will help lawmakers develop
tools to move beyond partisan agitation to action on issues that affect the left,
right, and center.”
One outcome of the symposium will be the publishing of a book by LSU Press in the
fall of 2014, which will be presented to each member of the new 114th Congress in January 2015.
In addition to the former Congresional members, the scholars participating will be:
“From the former members of Congress, we envision very practical ideas for how members of both parties can get along and work together on bipartisan solutions,” Mann said. “And, from the scholars, very specific proposals on systemic or institutional reforms to make Congress work more efficiently and harmoniously.”
The annual Breaux Symposium was established in 2000 as a core program of the Manship
School’s Reilly Center. Its goal is to explore areas where little or no research has
been conducted and/or to approach ideas from a fresh perspective – in other words,
to turn issues on their head. Underpinning the Manship School’s focus on the study
of media and politics, the Breaux Symposium’s central question is: How well is the
public being informed, and what must be done to increase citizen awareness and constructive
The inaugural symposium featured journalists Marvin Kalb, Walter Isaacson and David
Broder discussing the role of the press at the turn of the century. In the past decade
symposia topics have included new models for news, the role of advocacy groups in
bypassing traditional media to reach voters, redefining public opinion polling in
an age of segmented marketing and personalized communication, and the impact of propaganda
on American democracy.
For more information about the symposium, contact Tara Brown in the LSU Reilly Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dava Guerin at the United States Association of Former Members of Congress at 215-262-9020.
Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2013