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No Labels group aims to bridge divide

If the polls are to be believed, the public is simply fed up with Congress.

The 113th Congress, often known as the “do nothing” Congress, has passed fewer public laws than any of its predecessors in the past two decades, according to pewresearch.org. Blame swings back and forth between a Democratic-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House.

In the spirit of creating bipartisan solutions, No Labels, a “national movement of Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to a new politics of problem solving,” stepped in. Founded in 2010, the movement seeks to break political gridlock and “reduce the influence of hyper-partisanship.”

David Nevins, a State College businessman for 40 years, joined No Labels in 2011, shortly after its inception. Flanked by local and state politicians, he spoke Friday at the Courthouse Annex in Bellefonte about the organization’s strategic agenda.

With almost 600,000 members across the country, he said, the organization is dedicated to the simple proposition that common-sense solutions to the nation’s problems do exist. A problem-solvers coalition was formed of half Republicans and half Democrats.

Among the members of the coalition is Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, who was thanked by Nevins at Friday’s news conference for his work with No Labels and for “reaching across the aisle to move the country forward.”

Thompson said working with No Labels was a “no-brainer” for him, as his intention in authoring legislation is always to reach a consensus with his Democratic counterparts.

“No Labels is a group of citizen leaders that have been a driving force in encouraging elected officials and politicians to find common ground on a range of issues,” he said.

The organization spoke to his philosophy of government, he said, noting that the movement is about furthering dialogue and building greater trust among members of Congress from different parties and diverse philosophies.

“There’s a lot we disagree on,” he said. “That’s part of the process. But what we can agree on is a willingness to come to the table (and) articulate what we can agree on and build a solution from that.”

Thompson was joined by several members of state and local government, including state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, and county commissioners Steve Dershem and Chris Exarchos.

Thompson is running for re-election against Democrat Kerith Strano Taylor, of Brookville. He has been in office since 2009.

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