Regrettably, it’s difficult to highlight bipartisanship in a month where political polarization brought us to a government shutdown and the brink of defaulting on our fiscal obligations as a nation.
Fortunately, a group of Senators were able to facilitate a last minute agreement. But it never should have come to that point. And it must not again.
A bipartisan, bicameral conference committee has been convened to reconcile the differences between the widely divergent House and Senate budgets passed earlier this year. The committee is required to conclude and report on December 13.
However, there is no penalty in law for a failure to do so. That means, we have to provide the penalty – and communicate clearly to our elected officials throughout the next month-and-a-half that we will do just that, and that failure to arrive at a consensus is not an option.
The main areas of contention are well known and have existed already for a number of years – ranging to the extent of reform to our entitlement programs; to the level of additional revenues, if any; to the levels of spending going forward. There are major differences in each of these areas between the two parties, but they are not insurmountable. Common ground exists if those in Washington have the will, and the incentive, to find it.
From the Americans with Disabilities Act to Campaign Finance Reform to No Child Left Behind and more, many significant legislative achievements have been successful due to cross-party collaboration. Rather than lamenting cooperation as a relic of days gone by, the Bipartisan Champions series will highlight current lawmakers who are working across the aisle and getting things done. By showcasing those who are putting partisan differences aside in order to put national interests first, BPC hopes to encourage more of this activity among our elected leaders in Washington, DC.