Cornell to launch new bipartisan publication led by former Rep. Steve Israel
Cornell University on Thursday will launch the first edition of a new publication focused exclusively on bipartisan proposals from Democrats and Republicans at all levels of government.
The Bipartisan Policy Review will require that all articles be co-authored by at least one Republican and one Democrat, providing a platform for members of Congress to highlight legislative efforts that have support on both sides of the aisle.
The publication will be overseen by former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), head of Cornell’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, which first shared the announcement with The Hill. He said the platform has its roots in his time on Capitol Hill.
“When I left Congress in 2017, virtually anywhere I went, people would ask me about the polarization and the partisanship in Congress. I would explain that there is a significant amount of bipartisan cooperation, but nobody believed it,” he told The Hill.
The House Center Aisle Caucus, a bipartisan group co-founded by Israel and now-former Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) in 2005, also acted as a model for the Bipartisan Policy Review.
“We would pick an issue, and instead of focusing on our disagreements, we would spend a couple of hours exploring where we could agree. And so, I am taking that concept and using it as a basis for the Bipartisan Policy Review,” Israel said.
Israel, an opinion contributor to The Hill who served as chairman of House Democrats’ campaign arm in Congress, said he hopes the platform will “prove to people that there are opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to work together in Congress.”
Bipartisanship on Capitol Hill has proved hard to come by in recent years, particularly with a divided Congress. But there have been bright spots, namely last month’s passage of coronavirus relief bills that drew overwhelming support from both parties. Still, partisan politics has made it more difficult to move forward with additional relief measures.
The first edition of the biannual publication from Cornell will feature nine members of Congress — Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), French Hill (R-Ark.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) — as well as former Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.), and cover topics such as securing elections, reforming campaign finances and overhauling education in prisons.
Some of those lawmakers are members of bipartisan caucuses such as the Problem Solvers Caucus, with co-chairmen Gottheimer and Reed; the House Entrepreneurship Caucus, with Hill as a co-chairman; the War Powers Caucus, with Lee as a co-chairwoman; the Bipartisan Congressional Refugee Caucus; and the Global Health Caucus.
“The critical goal is to let people know that in a polarized and partisan environment, it’s not hopeless,” Israel said. “There are Democrats and Republicans who are finding ways to work together on specific issues.”
Israel emphasized the need for bipartisanship during the battle against the deadly coronavirus. To pass any of the coronavirus relief bills, both sides of the aisle had to “come together and compromise.”
That message is expected to be highlighted in a webinar Thursday with Gottheimer and Reed as they talk about their article regarding the need for bipartisanship in a post-COVID-19 world.
“What our institute is doing is trying to move the needle on bipartisan accord where we can,” Israel said. “And over the long term, I’m hoping that it does two things: one, it shows the public that Congress is a place where people can find accord; and two, it validates those members who are working together.”