The GOP should follow the example of Rep. Greg Walden
This past week, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced he will not seek reelection in 2020. It seems like there is no good news out of Washington anymore. But the truth is that Walden, one of the inaugural members of Republican Main Street Partnership, long has epitomized the integrity and effectiveness that every member of Congress should seek to embody — commitment to resolving issues that matter to voters and willingness to work across the aisle to create substantive solutions for Main Street America.
This should be a message to the Republican Party. If it has any hope of expanding, we must abandon the politics of fear and polarization and move back toward a commonsense, bipartisan approach to propel our country forward. It is for these reasons that Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP) was founded in 1997.
Like Walden, Republican Main Street Partnership is one of a kind. Retired Rep. Amory Houghton Jr. (R-N.Y.), the only Fortune 500 CEO to serve in the House, started Main Street as a home for collaborative, solution-oriented politics that focused on policy over partisanship. His vision since has become a permanent beacon of pragmatism in the GOP, further evolved by the work of the former congressman and Main Street CEO Steve LaTourette.
LaTourette was at the forefront of recognizing how instrumental suburban America continues to be in shaping government at a time when no one was really paying attention. Under his leadership was born the Defending Main Street Super PAC and, perhaps more importantly, he supported the Women2Women Conversations Tour, considering both to be tools to reach “Main Street Americans” who historically have been unheard.
Over the 20 years since our inception, we have traveled to cities across the country, talking to thousands of women and suburban families — and we keep hearing the same thing. Through Women2Women’s informal focus-grouping, we have found that access to quality and affordable health care consistently ranks as the number one issue women are discussing around the kitchen table, and that women are looking for the same honesty and collaboration in a leader that RMSP and its members such as Walden strive to emulate every day.
Few have championed health care for families better than Walden. One of his achievements was the Right to Try Act, which President Trump signed into law on May 30, 2018 to establish a pathway for terminally ill patients who have exhausted their government-approved options and can’t get into a clinical trial to access treatments. Additionally, Walden was one of the first to identify our country’s opioid crisis, authoring the landmark SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act that became law just over a year ago. This legislation has been a pivotal first step toward combating the deaths of over 130 Americans who overdose each day.
Throughout his last term, Walden has yet to waver in his commitment to improve health care for Americans. He has continued to draft legislation addressing pressing health care issues. This year, he introduced the Pre-existing Conditions Protection Act of 2019 that would ensure patients with pre-existing conditions remain covered if Congress repeals ObamaCare. Additionally, his bipartisan No Surprises Act would protect consumers with health insurance from being gouged by surprise hospital bills, prohibiting out-of-network providers from driving up rates.
Republican lawmakers would do well to heed Rep. Walden’s example of honesty and bipartisanship. It is more critical than ever that we work together and reach across the aisle to get meaningful legislation done, remembering that Congress represents its people and not its own partisan interests.
Sarah Chamberlain is the president and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership, a coalition of more than 70 members of Congress, and the founder and president of Women2Women Conversations Tour . Follow her on Twitter @MainStreetSarah and @w2wtours.
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