As Americans are simultaneously facing an economic and public health crisis, it’s more important than ever for our leaders to reach across the aisle in search of common-sense solutions.
On July 21, BPC recognized members of Congress committed to putting aside their differences in order to work for the common good.
This year’s Patriot Award recipients were Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). BPC presented the Legislative Action Awards to Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tina Smith (D-MN), and Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Garret Graves (R-LA).
“Throughout my tenure, I witnessed firsthand how they have in the authentic spirit of the Patriot Award, personified the highest values and purpose of public service”, said former Sen. Olympia Snowe, a BPC board member, as she presented the awards to Alexander and Murray.
“We need everyone committed to putting our constituents first and finding meaningful solutions,” said Murray, recognizing the importance of bipartisanship amid a national crisis.
Alexander added, “For me, bipartisanship is a tactic, not the goal. My goal as a United States Senator is the result.”
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a former chair of the Republican National Committee and current BPC board member, presented Senators Cassidy and Smith with the Legislative Action Awards. This was followed by a lively discussion with BPC President Jason Grumet on the future of bipartisanship and what is needed to push the country forward.
“I think the kind of fallacy of bipartisanship is that you have to give up your conservative or liberal values in order to achieve what is best for the country,” said Cassidy.
Meanwhile, Smith made a convincing case for bipartisanship: “It is hard to do bipartisan work. It is easier to stay in your corner and talk about how bad the other guys are, but at the end of the day that’s just talk, not action.” Smith and Cassidy also discussed the next coronavirus relief bill and issue areas that have received bipartisan support, namely supporting the child care system.
BPC’s newest board member, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, presented Murphy and Graves with the Legislative Action Awards. Castro spoke of the urgency of working together.
“The work of the BPC and of the folks that we’re recognizing tonight is so necessary right now. During this time of national emergency, we need Congress to come together and find solutions,” he said, while noting their efforts to bridge the partisan gap around climate change in particular.
Graves talked about the importance of shedding partisan labels, “The parties prevent us from being able to have dialogue with folks on the other side of the aisle, but I think it’s absolutely critical that we do.”
As one of the first two participants in BPC’s American Congressional Exchange, Murphy said, “These trips are incredibly important on a personal level… but also to see one another’s districts and we [Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) and I] were able to get tangible bipartisan policy into law.”
At the end of the event, Grumet said, “My hope is that today’s discussion gives you all some optimism about the incredibly talented people working in our government who are striving every day to make it work for the American people.”