As the 114th Congress gets underway, the issues facing Americans are no mystery. They include strengthening the economy, creating jobs, reducing our federal deficit, fixing a broken immigration system, protecting the homeland, and bolstering our defenses against new threats online.
While there are many ideas of how to best achieve these goals, most agree ? Republicans and Democrats alike ? that we can no longer afford to let our political differences impede our shared need to confront these challenges.
As a first step, members of Congress need to meet regularly across party lines and congressional leaders need to meet regularly with the president. To ultimately build trust with the American people Congress must resume the business of legislating.
The Bipartisan Policy Center has compiled a list of “doable items” that Congress can tackle on a bipartisan basis. Taking action on these bills early in the 114th Congress could go a long way to reinvigorating the legislative process.
Commit to regular order. Committees should conduct legislative and oversight hearings, marking-up legislation after receiving input from both sides and issuing committee reports. Members should be allowed to offer amendments to legislation on the floor and full conference committees should be held.
Pass energy efficiency legislation championed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT).
Advance energy innovation and reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Create new bankruptcy authority specifically designed for the failure of large financial institutions to provide another effective tool for ending bailouts for too-big-to-fail institutions.
Develop a workforce that can respond to growing cyber threats by passing legislation that increases training for cyber professions.
Establish a regulatory oversight framework for health information technology that promotes innovation and protects patient safety.
Grant Trade Promotion Authority giving the administration the freedom to negotiate trade agreements with our allies in the European Union and the Asia-Pacific region.
Expedite exporting of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to capitalize on our growing U.S. energy resources and create jobs.
Improve the technology transfer and commercialization of energy technologies by passing the Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act.
Establish a commission to inform better use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of spending on federal programs and tax expenditures, as in the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2014 championed by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI).