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It’s Not Your Imagination: Congress Really Is Working More

U.S. News and World Report

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bipartisanship is breaking out on Capitol Hill, and it seems to be catching.

With the 114th Congress now settling into the new realities of the Republican majority, members are rediscovering what it’s like to work together across party lines toward concrete, achievable goals.

Last month’s breakthrough on a long-standing Medicare payment headache was the most significant evidence yet that members of Congress had finally decided they’d had enough of the gridlock that has sent public disapproval soaring.

A new report released this week by the Bipartisan Policy Center on the launch of its Healthy Congress Index shows some numbers may help explain why the legislative gears are in motion again.

The index tracks several metrics grown out of recommendations presented by a BPC commission, led by former Senate majority leaders Tom Daschle, a Democrat, and Trent Lott, a Republican, as well as former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. The commission was tasked with determining the root causes of extreme polarization and finding solutions to ease the partisan divide.

Although Congress did not manage to meet recommendations for five-day work weeks and spending three consecutive weeks in Washington in the first quarter, it did improve on the total number of work days from the first quarters of the two previous sessions.

KEYWORDS: 114TH CONGRESS, BEN CARDIN, BOB CORKER, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, HARRY REID, HEALTHY CONGRESS INDEX, IRAN, JOHN BOEHNER, JOHN CORNYN, MEDICARE, MITCH MCCONNELL, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, OLYMPIA SNOWE, TOM DASCHLE