When George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, and Republicans maintained majorities in both the House and Senate, he decided to push Social Security reform. When Democrats won big in 2006, it was common to hear folks say, “The Republicans misread their mandate by pushing Social Security.”
When Barack Obama won election in 2008, and Democrats maintained majorities in both the House and Senate, he decided to push for health care reform. When Republicans won big in 2010, it was common to hear folks say, “The Democrats misread their mandate by pushing health care.”
In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 election, when President Obama won reelection and Congress remained divided between Republican and Democrats, the most common question I heard was, “If the voters sent back a split government with competing philosophies, who has the mandate to govern now?”
My answer to that question was always the same: “I think the voters gave us a mandate to work together.” A quarter of the way through this Congress, it appears that many are misreading the mandate once again by pushing partisan agendas that seek to score political points instead of policy victories.
Fortunately, not everyone takes that approach. Many of my colleagues are committed to finding common ground and developing, wherever possible, practical solutions to pressing challenges. And they are committed to doing so across party lines because that’s exactly what our constituents are asking for.
That’s why early this year I chose to join Problem Solvers, a group of legislators from both parties in both chambers that work with No Labels to craft policy to make government work. It’s amazing the progress that can be made when you get to know members of the other party personally, and can talk through issues with them in a setting far removed from the 24-hour news cycle.
In fact, back in January it was the Problem Solvers that originally developed the No Budget, No Pay plan that ultimately was adopted by both the House and Senate, and led to the passage of a budget in both chambers for the first time in four years. On July 18, we announced the introduction of nine bills to streamline government, cut costs and put our country back on the right track.
These bills won’t solve all of our problems, and there will remain principled differences between the parties — and even among individual members of the Problem Solvers coalition. But for an American public that wants to see us reach across the aisle and get something done, it’s a critical first step.
You can learn more about the legislative package at www.NoLabels.org.