Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Dan Newhouse (4th District of Washington)
Headline: COLUMN: Bringing Bipartisanship to the Other Washington
It is no secret that, in recent years, politics have become increasingly divisive. What Americans across the country see on television is arguing, partisan attacks, and politicized accounts of votes on specific pieces of legislation.
What they don’t see is the behind-the-scenes conversations, the bipartisan collaboration, or the hundreds of bills we unanimously pass out of the House. These things are happening all the time, but one of my priorities in Congress has been to make these occurrences more frequent and to bring these collaborative efforts into the limelight.
I am proud of my long history of working across the aisle with my colleagues – from the Washington State House of Representatives and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to the halls of Congress. In my experience, working together – in a bipartisan fashion – is the best and most effective way to deliver results.
Not long ago, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and I participated in a Civility & Respect Tour throughout Washington state. We traveled across our districts to speak with small businesses, students, and federal partners about the importance of bipartisanship in Congress. These trips served as beneficial opportunities to hear different perspectives from fellow Washingtonians located just hours away from my own congressional district.
I recently joined Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) for a similar event in the form of an online discussion about increasing bipartisanship in Congress. As a former technology executive, Rep. DelBene has different experiences and perspectives than I do as a lifelong farmer – but there are several priorities of our districts and our state that align. We discussed our shared goals of strengthening international trade deals, working to reform our agricultural labor programs, and ensuring that our state has the tools and resources we need to combat COVID-19 and keep families safe.
Accomplishing these goals for Washington would be impossible if it weren’t for the across-the-aisle collaboration and relationships we have built within our state delegation, which is something I am very proud of. Reps. Kilmer, DelBene, and I have worked to promote this collaboration through our work on the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress as well.
Washington state is well-represented on the Select Committee. As Chairman, Rep. Kilmer brought together 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans, including Rep. DelBene and myself, to work together on a truly bipartisan basis to improve the People’s House.
We recently released the Select Committee’s final report, which includes 97 bipartisan recommendations about how to make Congress more effective and transparent for the American people, including recommendations to specifically increase bipartisanship and relationship-building in Congress.
The Select Committee made recommendations for creating venues for bipartisan partnerships in the Capitol, as well as a biennial bipartisan retreat, where elected Representatives and their families could get to know each other outside of the House floor and committee rooms.
As Rep. Kilmer once said to me: The best way to know where someone is coming from is to actually see where they come from. I have taken his words to heart, and I truly believe that a sense of understanding, respect, and – eventually – bipartisanship will result from Members actively learning more about their peers from across the country.
As we approach the election on November 3, it is important to remember that civility and respect must play an important role in our political and daily lives. I am proud of Washington state’s ability to work together, across party lines, for the priorities of our great state, and I will continue to embrace the relationships I have built across the aisle. I hope others will do the same.