A nonpartisan political group is throwing its support behind U.S. Rep. John Katko in the 24th Congressional District race.
No Labels Action has distributed a mailer to voters in the 24th district. The mailer, which was obtained by The Citizen, informs recipients that Katko, R-Camillus, has been endorsed by No Labels Action and is a "leader committed to breaking the gridlock" in Congress.
Katko, the mailer continues, "is one of the few leaders with a plan — and the guts — to fix Washington."
The literature refers to No Labels Problem Solvers' Break the Gridlock agenda, which includes several proposals for ending dysfunction in Congress. One of main ideas mentioned in the platform is replacing the rule allowing a motion to vacate the chair, a mechanism for removing the speaker of the House of Representatives and holding an election for a new speaker.
Under the Problem Solvers' proposal, the motion to vacate the chair would be replaced by a petitioning process requiring at least one-third of the House to sign it to receive consideration, and a majority of the whole House would be needed to remove the speaker.
The Break the Gridlock platform was agreed to by bipartisan members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, including Katko.
Katko said the proposed reform to the motion to vacate the chair is important because it's "the big ax that is always being held over the speaker's head." The House Freedom Caucus, the conservative wing of the Republican conference, attempted to use this obscure rule to force out then-House Speaker John Boehner.
If you eliminate the motion to vacate the chair, Katko argues, the speaker would have more freedom to work with Democrats on key legislative matters.
"The motion to vacate the chair is what empowers them," he said, referring to the Freedom Caucus. "And if we get rid of that, they won't be empowered anymore because they won't have a lot of juice."
Katko has been a member of No Labels' Problem Solvers Caucus since 2015, his first year in Congress. The group consists of 48 members — 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans.
In the mailer for Katko, No Labels Action said it will support members of the Problem Solvers Caucus in the 2018 elections. Federal Election Commission financial reports indicate No Labels paid $32,314.05 on direct mail and printing in support of Katko.
The group also spent $11,750 on digital ads supporting Katko's re-election campaign.
Katko is seeking a third term representing the 24th Congressional District. His opponent is Democratic challenger Dana Balter.