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Editorial: The return of bipartisanship?

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Senate has reached a compromise on an anti-human-trafficking bill and the confirmation of President Obama’’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch.  This is some of the most promising news for agreement and progress in Congress in a long time.

The anti-trafficking bill had been filibustered by Senate Democrats because of an anti-abortion clauses deep in the bill. Senate Republicans, in response, filibustered the confirmation of Lynch. The gridlock was broken when both sides compromised. The bill no longer has an anti-abortion clause, but the bill can’t give victims direct aid for health care, thus avoiding the possibility of the bills use for abortion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is confident the appointment of Lynch will be dealt with in the following days, according to the Washington Post.

It’s unfortunate, however, that Lynch’s confirmation was tied to the bill at all. The willingness of Senate Republicans to compromise might have been influenced by a recent speech Obama gave, calling the Senate “embarrassing” and “dysfunctional.” Lynch has had to wait on a confirmation longer than the last seven attorney generals combined. Finally, she will be allowed to do her job.

Senate Republicans may have drawn out Lynch’s confirmation for an extended time to delay their upcoming session, packed with contentious issues. Executive trade authority, cyber defense, and the Iran nuclear deal are all on the table this session.

But this is a rare example of productive conversation and teamwork that Congress has severely lacked in the past decade. Republicans in Congress are under pressure to prove they can lead and get work done prior to the 2016 elections. It will be critical that the American people perceive them as capable of constructive work.

Perhaps a new time has come, where the American people can vest trust in their legislative branch. Congressional approval ratings have not exceeded 20 percent in five years. Last year, Congress ended the year with a 15 percent approval rating, up from 14 percent the year before, according to a Gallup poll. That remains the lowest approval rating ever recorded. Interestingly, Democrats and Republicans both shared the 15 percent approval rating. The disdain for an unproductive Congress may be the first step in building bridges and starting conversations.

If this progress on issues really can be attributed to the attempt by the Republican leadership to patch up their image in the eyes of the American people, it is interesting to note that Democrats are not indulging in the incessant road blocking they faced when they held a majority in the Senate. Whether this will be acknowledged, or even remembered, during the 2016 election cycle has yet to be seen.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board is pleased to see such useful compromise happen on Capitol Hill. It seems the entirety of the United States is absolutely tired of a disappointing and stagnant Congress. The new conversations across the aisle are undoubtedly a bid from Republicans to prove they can lead, but at least that’s getting somewhere.

This back and forth, give and take, is what politics have to be about. Should only one opinion reign, the results are dangerous. Single-party systems quickly become powerful to the point of tyranny. Seeing the two parties work together, even briefly, is a major sign of progress.


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