Many Americans have gotten sick and tired of the partisanship and dysfunction they see in government. They feel that rather than working together to find real solutions to issues facing hard-working Americans, elected officials seize every opportunity to disparage their political counterparts. Instead of being accountable to their constituents, they stay in Washington to attend high-profile parties and events and are consumed by D.C. squabbles.
While that might be accurate for some members of Congress, some of us still work hard to take the responsibility of public service seriously. Bipartisanship and accountability not only still exist in Congress, but are the keys to political and legislative success.
Despite today’s hyper-partisan political climate, we have made cooperation a priority. Earlier this year, The Lugar Center, in cooperation with Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, released its annual report on bipartisan Members of Congress. We ranked 19th and 65th out of 435 Members in the 114th Congress; 18th and 59th in the 113th Congress.
Between the two of us, we have sponsored more than 20 pieces of bipartisan legislation so far this year, including the AFFIRM Act and the National Scenic Trails Parity Act, which we sponsored together. We’ve also held close to 100 town hall meetings to date in 2017 and can be found in our districts nearly every day we’re not voting in Washington.
Wisconsin is a unique place. Our people are hardworking, pragmatic and kind. Our state is neither politically blue nor red — it is purple with a long history of formative leaders representing both parties. Wisconsin is a political anomaly. It makes sense, then, that its leaders should have a common-sense, bipartisan approach to problem-solving. Together, residents of the Badger State have created a culture of respect and appreciation for one another. That’s the tradition that we — as Wisconsin Representatives — strive every day to honor and continue.
The people of Wisconsin are our No. 1 priority and the driving force behind our work in Congress. And although we each hold different ideological beliefs, we understand that to pass legislation that will solve the problems facing our constituents — and all Americans — we must find ways to bridge the political divide and compromise.
Disagreements over legislation, implementation and fundamental beliefs will never change. But despite such differences, it is possible to find common ground, because at the heart of every issue is the desire to find solutions that make life better for every American.
We believe that good policy requires input from all sides, and continuing open discussions on the problems we face will enable us as a nation to find real solutions. The process is never easy — sometimes it’s contentious — but if we listen and respect one another, we’re confident that at the end of the day, we will find ourselves in a better place than where we began.
That’s what we’re working toward every day, and it’s what we hope our colleagues —both in the Wisconsin delegation and in the Congress as a whole — will work toward as well. Bipartisanship isn’t dead, and if we embrace it with clear eyes and full hearts, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.
Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, represents Wisconsin's fifth district in Congress. Ron Kind, a Democrat, represents the state's third district.
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