HUPAC Roundup: Putting Congeniality Back in Congress
Though partisan politics seems to be getting more aggressive by the day,
there are still bright spots of bipartisan working relationships in Congress...
Though partisan politics seems to be getting more aggressive by the day, there are still bright spots of bipartisan working relationships and friendships in Congress.
Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) and Kay Granger (R-TX-12) are the first duo of women to lead a House committee since 1977, when two women led the Select Committee on the House Beauty Shop. Lowey and Granger are leading the House Appropriations Committee—one of the most powerful committees in Congress. These women have created a friendship that has led to more productive work outcomes, such as the February border deal that kept the government open. Lowey and Granger claim that if they had been involved in the process from the beginning, the compromise would have been reached sooner.
Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have an interesting working relationship not only because they are both Ohio senators, but also because they represent different parties, one of only 14 states to have a split Senate delegation in the previous Congress. They each have a 97% party unity score, meaning they only break party lines on votes three percent of the time. However, even though they are ideologically opposed, they still work together to improve the lives of Ohioans. For example, Portman and Brown recently have been among those who introduced the Work Opportunity Tax Credit & Jobs Act, which would make the work opportunity tax credit a permanent addition to the Tax Code.
Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Christopher Murphy (D-CT) had the opportunity to know each other without partisanship standing in the way on the second week of the spring recess. Romney and Murphy are the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, and went to the Middle East to meet with leaders in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Iraq. This opportunity allowed them to learn first-hand about the situation on the ground in the areas their subcommittee has jurisdiction, and develop a stronger working relationship. Romney and Murphy are expected to work together a lot in the coming years.
In possibly the most fun show of bipartisanship in Congress, the Minnesota delegation gathered together at the beginning of April for the 9th annual Congressional Hotdish Competition, held by Senator Tina Smith, who was appointed to the seat of Senator Al Franken after he resigned. (A hotdish is a casserole that typically consists of a starch, a meat and at least one vegetable, mixed with a can of soup and baked in the oven.) All 10 members of delegation competed, including the state’s three Republicans and seven Democrats. This friendly competition among the Minnesota delegation proves that those from opposite sides of the aisle can still be friendly, even when they are politically in argument. Representative Emmer (MN-6 ) is the chair of the NRCC, the GOP House fundraising arm, which put out a list of Democrats to target in 2020—including three of his fellow Minnesota delegates—Representatives Angie Craig (MN-2), Dean Phillips (MN-3) and Colin Peterson (MN-7). Also of note, Representative Ilhan Omar (MN-5) is considered to be a “Super Progressive,” while Representative Jim Hagedorn (MN-1) is considered to be highly conservative, but all members were able to put aside political ideology for the day and enjoy one of Minnesota’s favorite foods. Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4) won the competition with her “Hotdish A-Hmong Friends”.
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