Matsu Valley Frontiersman: Alaskans lead effort to make Congress work

Amid the rancor and divisiveness of these highly partisan times, it is encouraging to see the seeds of common sense and reason taking root in Washington, D.C. As Alaskans, we are doubly encouraged to see our two senators — Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich — stepping up and setting the right tone to help break the gridlock that has gripped our nation’s capital and make government work for all of us.

In late December, Sen. Murkowski, a Republican, unveiled a blueprint for much-needed campaign finance disclosure reform after the anti-democratic fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling. Demonstrating how reasonable solutions can be arrived at through a nonpartisan approach to problem-solving, Murkowski teamed up with Senate colleague Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, to create the plan.

The proposed legislation aims to create a new transparency for so-called super PACs — “political action committees” that are allowed to collect enormous sums of money without disclosing the origins of the funds. The plan will level the playing field for donations to both a candidate and a super PAC.

Currently, Americans are required to publicly disclose any contribution greater than $200 to a candidate, but can give unlimited money to super PACs without public disclosure. The Murkowski-Wyden plan would create an equal dollar limit for the two types of donations, along with a user-friendly online database for voters to track donation sources.

We applaud Sen. Murkowski’s efforts and the bipartisan manner in which she is helping move good legislation forward.

In a similarly bipartisan vein, Sen. Begich last week announced he has joined the “No Labels” congressional problem-solvers. Established just two years ago as a grassroots movement of people of all political stripes who are committed to working across the aisle to build trust and find common ground, No Labels is gaining momentum in the halls of Congress.

Begich’s group is comprised of 24 members of the House and Senate — Republicans, Democrats and independents — who have committed to meeting regularly to build trust across the aisle and help break the gridlock and blame game that have become too pervasive in Washington.

These are very hopeful signs. In highly partisan times, it is good to see bipartisanship taking root in the interest of serving the public good. It should be especially gratifying to Alaskans to see two of their own leading the charge.