Working to find actionable solutions to the nation's key challenges.

Congress is getting some stuff done. It’s so rare that everyone is noticing.

The Washington Post

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

There’s a lot of self congratulating going around Capitol Hill these days — members of Congress are, in not-so-insignificant ways, doing their jobs.

And while we realize that for most working Americans that wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy, for the Congress we’ve come to know in the last several years, actual legislating is cause for great celebration.

But is this uptick in activity — the passage of the Medicare ‘doc fix,’ likely passage of a human trafficking bill, some movement on a trade deal, a budget resolution conference and even the possibility of a highway bill — a sign of things shifting? It is the question everyone seems to be asking.

The Bipartisan Policy Center has some evidence that there’s reason for optimism. The organization released Tuesday results of a new project that measures Congress’s productivity quarterly. The “Healthy Congress Index” takes into account such tangible things as days spent in Washington, floor debates and bills reported out of committee.

“The first installment of this quarterly Index shows there are some early signs of revival in Congress, although we’re not quite ready to remove the patient from ICU just yet,” said former senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine). She later said, “Too few days in session leaves too little time for the kind of negotiating and intra-party dialogue that is essential to the legislative process.”

Snowe, along with former senators Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), former governor/interior secretary/senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho) and former agriculture secretary/congressman Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), released a report last year with recommendations to break the gridlock in Washington.

KEYWORDS: 114TH CONGRESS, DAN GLICKMAN, DIRK KEMPTHORNE, HEALTHY CONGRESS INDEX, MEDICARE, OLYMPIA SNOWE, TOM DASCHLE