By Lew Freedman
Via Wyoming News Exchange
CODY — In an unusual high-profile cooperative move, 44 former United States senators, including Al Simpson, wrote an open letter to the current 100 members of the U.S. Senate warning them the nation is facing perilous times.
Appearing as an opinion piece Tuesday in the Washington Post, the former office-holders banded together to urge their successors to put aside partisanship and deal with impending huge issues facing the country’s future and security, including saving the nation’s democracy itself.
Simpson, the retired senator from Wyoming who lives in Cody, said he was contacted by telephone just two days prior to the article’s appearance asking him to join as a cosigner after reading it.
“There’s lots of work to be done and we better get about it,” Simpson told the Enterprise.
He cited relations with Russia, the special prosecutor probe of Robert Mueller III investigating President Donald Trump’s election, and the looming shutdown of the government if a budget is not passed soon as urgent work facing the body in which he served 1979-1997.
The commentary reads: “Dear Senate colleagues, As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.
“We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.
“It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate.
“We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.
“During our service in the Senate, at times we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies. We all took an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution. Whatever united or divided us, we did not veer from our unwavering and shared commitment to placing our country, democracy and national interest above all else.
“At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time.
“Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings, or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.”
Among the former Republican senators besides Simpson affixing their names to the statement were: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Richard Lugar of Indiana, John Warner of Virginia, Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, Larry Pressler of South Dakota and William Cohen of Maine.
Among the Democrats signing the piece were: Max Baucus of Montana, Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Max Cleland and Sam Nunn of Georgia, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Bob Graham of Florida. Also, Independent Lowell Weicker of Connecticut.
“We have a lot of things converging now,” Simpson said. “We’re not mentioning Trump. There are significant things to be done.
“I just think it’s time to stop picking at scabs when the earth is burning.”