The Ripon Forum

Volume 48, No. 4

December 2014

“We can restore the trust and confidence by coming together to find common ground.”

By on December 10, 2014



If there is one thing that members on both sides of the aisle can agree on, it is that our country is divided politically. Members of Congress approach issues from different perspectives and come to different conclusions about the best solutions to the problems we face.

The American people delivered a strong message on November 4, 2014, casting their votes to say that they expect leaders in Washington to work together to solve the problems facing our nation. Voters rejected the current makeup of the Senate – and with that, the way that the chamber has operated under Democrat control.

It’s no secret that the approval ratings of Congress are abysmal, but we can restore the trust and confidence of the American people by coming together to find common ground.

In the most recent Congress, there were glimpses of bipartisanship that we can build on in the years to come. I served as a conferee on the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which became law earlier this year and will improve our nation’s ports and inland waterways. The broadly supported Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will help more American workers gain the skills they need for jobs in their local communities.

These two pieces of legislation passed with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate because members – and leadership – were willing to hear each other’s concerns, engage in a robust debate in their respective chambers, and negotiate on final legislation.

The American people will not, and should not, have confidence in a Congress that seeks only to preserve itself.

Unfortunately, these bills were anomalies in the 113th Congress. Too often, however, Congress has avoided making the tough choices that are necessary to reduce our deficit, build our infrastructure, and preserve entitlement programs for future generations.

The U.S. Senate failed to consider dozens of jobs bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives – good pieces of legislation that would have helped to create jobs, spur investment and grow the economy.

The Hire More Heroes Act would exempt businesses from the Affordable Care Act employer mandate to encourage the hiring of more veterans. It passed the House with overwhelming support – 406-1 – but was never considered in the Senate.

The Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act would grow our economy by allowing for increased exports of liquefied natural gas. It passed the House with the support of 46 Democrats but was never brought up for consideration in the Senate.

Even more significantly, the Senate screeched to a halt because of the Democratic leadership’s decision not to allow votes on scores of amendments – including amendments filed by Democrats – in order to protect senators running for reelection from making politically difficult choices.

The American people will not, and should not, have confidence in a Congress that seeks only to preserve itself.   By opening the Senate floor to debate and amendments, we can restore the institution’s role as the world’s greatest deliberative body. Congress must earn back the trust of the American people by functioning as the Founders intended, offering a robust debate on the issues that matter to the American people, and ensuring them representation in the crafting of the laws of our land.

Shelley Moore Capito will be sworn into office as U.S. Senator from West Virginia on January 6, 2015. Since 2000, she has represented the 2nd District of West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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  1. Congress building foundation for bipartisan cooperation - Ripon Advance | December 18, 2014