Don’t look now, but Tuesday, April 14, 2015 was a good day for American democracy.
First, the U.S. Senate by an extraordinary 92-8 tally, adopted legislation ending 18 years of a flawed Medicare reimbursement system – the so-called “doc fix” – and extended funding for a once-controversial children’s health program. The real breakthrough here happened in the House where Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi sat down, shut the doors and developed a serious solution to one of Congress’ most embarrassing “can-kicking” traditions. Before final passage in the Senate, the legislation had garnered 392 votes in the House.
Earlier that very same day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stepped up to pass, on an equally stunning 19-0 vote, a skillfully constructed bipartisan compromise ensuring Congress a vote on any nuclear agreement with Iran. Recognizing that less than a month ago, nearly half the Senate seemed to have given up on the process – taking the aggressive and highly partisan step of writing directly to Iranian leadership – the establishment of a unified voice in the Committee is a real sign of tremendous progress.
Together, these buds of bipartisanship offer signs that the legislative process is coming back to life after years of dark and depressing political gridlock.