Senate orientation will aim to bridge partisan divide

Although this year's freshman class will change the Senate's political landscape by increasing the GOP majority, its members are gearing up for an orientation they say will place more emphasis on building bipartisan relationships than previous Senate orientations.

Two Senate Republicans and two Democrats are working with leadership to imbue the four-day program with more of a "retreat" atmosphere, according to Senate aides.

"As new members come in, he thinks it's important that they start off on the foot of thinking in terms of working together," said a spokeswoman for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Alexander is working with Sens. Thomas Carper, D-Del., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, to organize the program, which begins Sunday, Nov. 14. The orientation will include crash courses on a wide range of subjects, led by as many as 20 "faculty" senators from both sides of the aisle.

The program is designed to create "more of a human element," according to a Carper aide, who said previous freshman orientations have been somewhat dry and technical. "This is basically an effort to try to build bipartisanship from day one -- to build human relationships between new senators and old senators so this place can function in a less partisan atmosphere," Carper's aide said.

The newly elected senators will stay at the same hotel, share meals and ride together to the Capitol each day, according to Carper's aide. Carper plans to stay at that hotel during the orientation program, and several other faculty senators also are considering staying there, the aide added.

The organizers also have discussed assigning two Senate "mentors" -- one Republican and one Democrat -- to each newly elected senator as the orientation draws to a close. "And there's been some talk about doing a retreat with the mentors and the new senators in January, for a day and a half," Carper's aide said.

Noting that Alexander, Carper and Voinovich are former governors and Pryor is a former state attorney general, aides said the four senators are largely modeling this year's program on the freshman orientations typically organized by the National Governors Association and the National Association of Attorneys General.

"NGA works very hard to be a bipartisan institution, and I think that being former governors and having to get things done gives Sen. Alexander and Sen. Carper and Sen. Voinovich a different perspective," Alexander's spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman noted that Alexander has collaborated with Carper and other Democrats on clean air legislation, a compromise Internet tax bill and other issues. As governor, Alexander also had to bridge partisan differences with a Democrat-controlled state legislature.

"He feels that the intersection of principles is an important part of the process," Alexander's spokeswoman said.

Orientation for new House members begins Nov. 13 in Washington and will continue through the week of the lame duck session. Additionally, the biennial orientation session for new House members hosted in Boston by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Institute of Politics is scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 2. The Heritage Foundation, which also holds orientation sessions for new members, will hold its retreat in Baltimore Jan. 17-18.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.