For the past few months, all I hear about at home, in D.C., on the news, asked by reporters is, “What will happen on Tuesday, Nov. 8?” While Washington’s partisan gridlock continues to infect the country, we need to remember the issue isn’t what will happen on the 8th, it’s how we will work together on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
As a solutions-oriented businessman, transitioning to the partisan gridlock of Washington has been a challenge. My hope is this letter will serve as a call to action for all Republican House members to come back to Washington unified, as we have spent far too many nights as a fractured body, and, if necessary, I ask the Republican leadership to keep us in a room until we are ready to join together in one direction.
I’ll never forget arriving in D.C. five and a half years ago and attending one of my first hearings. I could not fathom the blame-shifting and finger pointing between Republicans and Democrats. Indeed, there was so much argument, no one was even asking the witnesses questions. It was clear to me that day the process was broken and it should be no surprise regular Americans don’t like what’s going on in Washington.
Shortly after that hearing, I co-founded the Bipartisan Working Group, a group of 23 Republican and Democrat lawmakers who believe in fostering interparty collegiality and legislative partnerships. It provides opportunities for lawmakers to pitch ideas, find co-sponsors for initiatives, and discover avenues for collaboration across the aisle. Last Congress, I was able to get four bills signed into law with the feedback and support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
Changing the hyper-partisan climate on Capitol Hill will not happen overnight, but working on reforming the culture within our Congress is a strong first step. First, I believe that real change starts with ensuring process prevails over political posturing and with pushing policies over politics. Leaders on the both sides of the aisle should come together and outline what can move through Congress with bipartisan support, then allow the committees to do their work through regular order.
Wednesday, Nov. 9 is the day Congress must stop this cycle of crisis governance; we must restore regular order in Congress. We have moved away from our core function of deliberation and moved towards favoring process efficiency and electioneering. There has been an ever increasing trend of important pieces of legislation coming to the floor without being reported out of committee and with heavy-handed rules limiting amendments and debate. This deviation from the process has resulted in the command-and-control leadership structure we have today and directly contributes to the partisanship that has eroded the public trust in Congress.
Regardless of whom the American people elect on Nov. 8, I was elected to serve the people of Ohio’s 16th District nevertheless who is sleeping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We need more leaders in Congress who are willing to bridge the gap and work across the aisle. There is still room in Washington for compromise without deviating from our core principles. I want to ask all my House colleagues to honor what we have been hired to do – craft legislation that will benefit all Americans.
America is great, but we need to make Congress better.
Renacci represents Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. He sits on the Budget and the Ways and Means committees.
The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.