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Concern is growing that America’s deep polarization is damaging the nation. How can Congress bridge the divide?
Polarization and division in the United States have reached such a point that they threaten our strength domestically and overseas. But today, bridge builders in Congress are making a concerted effort to work across the aisle and find common ground.
In this podcast episode of “Let’s Find Common Ground“, we interview two House members—Democrat Derek Kilmer and Republican William Timmons—about their support for The Building Civic Bridges Act and their work together on the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
We also discuss how bipartisan support for robust measures in response to the invasion of Ukraine may strengthen efforts to improve ties between Members of Congress of both parties.
This effort comes at a critical time. Recent polling found that about four out of five Americans are very or extremely concerned about America’s political divisions.
Read the Episode Transcript
Rep. Derek Kilmer
Derek Kilmer serves as the United States Representative of Washington’s 6th Congressional District.
The son of two school teachers, Derek was taught to appreciate the value of education. Derek wanted to make a difference in his community, so he chose to study public policy, looking for ways to help economically struggling communities. He received a BA from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs and earned a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England.
Derek put his education into practice right here in Washington, first as a business consultant for McKinsey & Company, where he helped businesses, non-profits, and government agencies run more efficiently. He moved closer to the community he was raised in so he could put his experience in economic development to use helping to retain jobs and attract new employers during the decade he worked for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
After seeing how the decisions that government made affected employers in our region, Derek decided to put his experience to work in Olympia. He served in the Washington state House from 2005 to 2007 and the state Senate from 2007 until he was elected to the US House in 2012. While in Olympia, Derek was the principal writer of the state’s capital budget and helped author a bipartisan infrastructure package that has been credited with creating 18,000 jobs. He also led a successful bipartisan effort in the Washington state Senate to balance the budget and reduce state debt.
Derek was reelected to a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020 and serves on the House Appropriations Committee, one of only four ‘exclusive’ committees in the House. Derek serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, Defense Subcommittee, and Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. He was also appointed to serve as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a bipartisan Committee formed to investigate, study, make findings, hold public hearings, and develop recommendations to make Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent on behalf of the American people.
Derek has learned that addressing the challenges facing our nation will require an end to political brinkmanship and a focus on finding common sense, practical solutions. He’s a member of organizations like the Bipartisan Working Group which works to bring Democrats and Republicans together to forge greater consensus on a wide variety of issues.
Rep. William Timmons
William Timmons serves as the United States Representative of South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District.
William entered Congress in 2019 with a commitment to bring real reform to Washington. His experience as a prosecutor and small business owner inspired him to run for public office. As a state senator, he fought for accountability and transparency in Columbia.
In Congress, William is a voice for Upstate residents and South Carolina’s business community as a member of the Financial Services Committee. In addition to his role on the committee, William was chosen by the Republican Leader to serve as Vice-Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress and elected by his classmates to represent them on the Republican Steering Committee.
William is a lifelong member of Christ Church in Greenville and also serves as a JAG Officer and Captain in the South Carolina Air National Guard. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Greenville.