The Latest: Reid, Kerry: Money drives congressional gridlock
RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Latest on a lecture on bipartisanship by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and ex-Secretary of State John Kerry (all times local, PDT):
Two retired Democrats who served in the U.S. Senate together for nearly three decades say money has been the driving force behind a dramatic rise in partisanship and resulting gridlock in Congress over the past decade.
Ex-Secretary of State John Kerry of Massachusetts and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday the failure to enact enforceable limits on corporate and campaign committee contributions puts candidates in a race to raise money with little or no incentive to seek compromises on tough issues.
The two appeared at the launch of a lecture series named after the native Nevadan at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Reid said, “Money is everything in politics today.”
Kerry said money doesn’t always get what it wants, but it almost always can achieve gridlock. He says that’s why the current Congress can’t get anything done.
Kerry, who ran for president in 2004, says the only way to change that is for voters to turn out at elections and make their voice heard in support of campaign finance reforms. He bemoaned the fact only 55 percent of Americans voted in the last presidential election.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says money has been the driving force behind a dramatic rise in partisanship in Washington D.C. over the past decade.
“There are a lot of problems we have in government today, but if I had to name No. 1, it would be money,” Reid said ahead of a joint lecture on bipartisanship Tuesday with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
“America is becoming just like Russia. Russia is run in conjunction with (President Vladimir) Putin by oligarchs, very wealthy families in Russia,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Kerry and Reid were to speak at the launch of a lecture series at the University of Nevada, Reno named after the retired Nevada Democrat.
In remarks prepared for the lecture, Reid said he’s optimistic about the future primarily because of a recent surge in grassroots activism — especially among young people — “demanding their voices be heard” on a host of issues, from racial equality to gun violence.
“These young people are making an impact unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time,” Reid said. “They’re showing that grassroots activism is much more important and powerful than the obscene amounts of money injected into our politics.”