Bipartisanship Laser Talk

Updated on 05/16/18 11:20 CDT.

Question:  Why is bipartisanship important for climate policy?

Answer:  When legislation is bipartisan, it means that both parties have taken ownership. That’s the key to making laws that will endure.

In 1935, the House passed the Social Security Act by a margin of 348 votes. [1] In 1963, Clean Air Act passed the House by 164 votes, [2] and bills to strengthen it were passed by even larger margins – 374 votes in 1970 [3] and 382 votes in 1990. [4] All these bills had bipartisan support, and were signed into law by both Democratic and Republican Presidents.

Bipartisan legislation may seem invisible to the public because it’s not newsworthy. It can’t compete with conflict, controversy, and scandal for media attention. But it’s the way the best things get done in Washington. Most legislators actually do value reaching across the aisle. We see that in the formation of working groups like the Problem Solvers Caucus, [5] and the Climate Solutions Caucus. [6]

But what about the voters? What do they really want? Political scientist Dr. Celia Paris tells us about research showing that, regardless of party, voters have more confidence in Congress when “a bill has bipartisan sponsorship.” They “assume that bills sponsored only by the opposite party are bad,” but, on the other hand, bipartisan collaboration “benefits a legislator’s reputation and it also increases public support for the policy.” [7]

We need both major political parties to support climate action, not just to get legislation passed and signed, but to show that they are invested in making it succeed over the long haul.

  1. “To Pass H.R. 7260, (P.A. 271), the Social Security Bill.” Voteview.com (accessed 05/09/18).
  2. “H.R. 6518. The Clean Air Act. Passage.” Voteview.com (accessed 05/09/18).
  3. “To Pass H.R. 17255.” Voteview.com (accessed 05/09/18).
  4. “Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.” Voteview.com (accessed 05/09/18).
  5. “Problem Solvers Caucus.” Ballotpedia (accessed 05/09/18).
  6. “Climate Solutions Caucus.” Citizens’ Climate Lobby (accessed 05/09/18).
  7. Winchester, F. “Bipartisanship improves public opinion of legislators & policy,” Citizens’ Climate Lobby (13 Feb 2018).

 

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Bipartisanship,
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