Nov 19, 2018
5 Bipartisan Advancements to Be Thankful for This Year
With the midterm elections and partisan politics dominating the news, 2018 has been filled with division and hyper-partisanship. What the headlines fail to recognize is all the important bipartisan advancements on Capitol Hill and the progress that has been made in the 115th Congress. This Thanksgiving week, we give special thanks to these five significant bipartisan steps:
- Revitalizing Congress through New Committees: This year, the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform was established to develop and recommend ways for Congress to make improvements in these processes. The Committee will likely call for Congress to adopt a biennial budget, which has garnered growing bipartisan support. By creating a budget for two-year cycles instead of annually, Congress would streamline the budget process and allow more time for congressional oversight and evaluation of federal programs. There’s a growing call for a new Committee on the Organization of Congress to build on the Joint Select Committee’s work by making broader changes to revitalize Congress by reforming its processes and functions. The concept is gaining bipartisan support—with nearly 70 members of Congress supporting legislation to create the committee. Last week, incoming House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) included the recommendation of this committee in a draft rules proposal for the 116th This new committee would focus on analyzing Congress from the inside and recommending improvements to make Congress more efficient, effective, and accountable to us, the American people.
- Improving the Appropriations Process: The appropriations process has long been a grueling back-and-forth, too often resulting in a government shutdown (nearly 20 in the last four decades!). The Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), have worked together to make this year one of the most productive for appropriations activities by passing seven of the 12 federal spending bills for the first time before August recess since 2000. They also eliminated the practice of putting often-divisive policy provisions, known as ‘poison pill riders,’ in spending bills. These riders often alienate bipartisan support for spending bills, leading to gridlock and shutdowns.
- Water Resources Development Act: This October, President Trump signed the Water Resources Development Act into law, a broadly bipartisan bill that passed the Senate with a nearly unanimous vote (99-1). Aside from authorizing federal funding for water infrastructure projects, it will expand the U.S.’s water storage capabilities and modernize wastewater, irrigation, and drinking systems.
- Opioid Bill: In 2017, more Americans died from drug overdoses, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids, than car crashes, breast cancer, or gun violence. The 72,000+ people who died was nearly 10,000 more than the record-setting high in 2016. This year, Congress came together across party lines to help combat this epidemic. The landmark, bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R.6), which will increase access to addiction treatment and use intervention techniques such as strengthening law enforcement against illegal drugs and reducing the over-prescription of opioids, was signed into law by President Trump in October.
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018: There are nearly 90,000 flights in the U.S. each day, and in 2017, U.S.-serving airlines carried nearly 929 million passengers, topping the previous record of 897.9 million in 2015. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a key component to ensuring the U.S. has the proper airport and aviation infrastructure it needs. This year, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which secures funding until 2023 and represents the longest funding authorization period for its programs in over 30 years. President Trump signed the multi-year re-authorization in October, allowing the U.S. to better prepare for growth so it continues to lead in aviation safety.
Let’s give thanks for these advancements by building on this progress and continuing the momentum in the incoming 116th Congress—by creating a new Committee on the Organization of Congress that will make government work better.