One of the biggest stories in politics right now is the split between left and right.
In Washington, D.C., it’s about the Republican legislators working on a health care bill without Democratic input, something Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called “under the cover of darkness.” In Harrisburg, a “get-out-of-town” budget is being projected to avoid the monthslong stalemate that locked up governments from small towns to counties to school districts to state agencies in 2015, when the new Democratic governor faced off with the Republican majority lawmakers.
So there really aren’t any elected officials who can work together, right?
Just a second.
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On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island, was being interviewed on MSNBC. Talking about the woes of the political landscape, Langevin spoke about the need for bipartisanship:
Is that even a thing? Did he have any examples? He did: U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township.
Langevin and Thompson have worked together a lot. The two cochair the House Career and Technical Education Caucus. On Thursday, a bill with much less attention focused on it than the health care overhaul is scheduled to go through from their group. That CTE bill passed the last Congress with a vote of 405 to 5, almost as bipartisan as it is possible to get.
“If you’re going to get anything done that is meaningful, anything that’s going to be effective and endure, bipartisanship is an important part of it,” Thompson said Monday.
Dick Lugar was a Republican. He was a member of the Senate for 36 years, rising to important positions like chairman of the foreign relations committee. After he left office in 2013, his Lugar Center focused on issues he felt were important. One of them was bipartisanship. Each year, his group puts out an index that ranks members of Congress on the basis of their willingness to reach across the aisle.
Thompson’s rank in the 114th Congress was 55th out of 427. He was sixth out of the 18 Pennsylvanian Representatives, behind Republicans Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Meehan, Democrat Mike Doyle, and Republicans Charlie Dent and Tim Murphy.
“I think this is important for people to know,” Thompson said. “Resistance needs to be replaced with respect. Respect means being willing to come to the table.”