U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader treated Milwaukie Rotary Club members last week to a sneak preview of an unprecedented announcement set for July 18 by the bipartisan No Labels group.

Schrader, a Clackamas County Democrat is among a couple dozen charter members of now 78 Congressional delegates planning to announce a “bold” package of bills on Capitol Hill next week. Until the unveiling, No Labels leaders are not saying much else about the legislation beside its intent to make governmental agencies “more efficient and effective.”

But speaking on July 9 in the Rotary Club’s headquarters downtown, Schrader noted that the eight to nine proposed bills will include a call to merge “duplicative governmental agencies” and won’t include any input on immigration-reform efforts. Schrader and other No Labels members were inspired to action by their frustration with partisanship.

“I had hoped to come here to talk about how the prospects for immigration reform are really good, but frankly I am disturbed,” he said. “There will be no pathway to citizenship presented by the House.”

After having “fun” serving on the Agricultural Committee, Schrader expressed increasing frustration with Congressional political realities. Committee members had balanced reforms of nutritional assistance programs (Food Stamps) with weaning “big ag” companies off subsidies, but Schrader then saw “extremists” put roadblocks in front of the bill.

“It was a classic example of how hard it is to craft a bill for the good of the country,” he said.

Despite what news outlets would have had the public believe, Schrader had thought the first half of the year on Capitol Hill went “pretty well.” That was until most of the approximately 400 members of Congress in politically safe seats, in Schrader’s opinion decided they would only pander to their own party.

“I’m one of the few folks that remain that represent a diverse group,” he said.

Finally addressing immigration reform, Schrader endorsed a portion of the immigration bill drafted by a partnership of Oregonians — one representative of nursery owners and another representing farm workers. He also criticized Republicans who ran on a “no amnesty” platform seemingly opposing immigration reform “if solving the problem means allowing citizenship in any form,” even if illegal immigrants pay off fines and back taxes.

In response to concerns from a Rotary member about earmarks, Schrader offered an alternative method for evaluating proposed legislation, rather than objecting to almost everything: “Is the bill mostly good or mostly bad, or is there a poison pill in there?”

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