Tag Archive for: bipartisanship

Podcast EP 64: Millennial Politicians

Millennial Politicians on Finding Common Ground

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At a divisive time in national politics, how can local politicians work for the common good? Hear from two young leaders.

In US politics, bipartisanship is now the exception, not the rule. But the Millennial Action Project is pushing back: it trains young leaders to bridge the partisan divide and work together to solve America’s problems.

In this episode, we meet two members of the Millennial Action Project from opposite sides of the aisle. They are state representatives from Connecticut, Republican Devin Carney, and Democrat Jillian Gilchrest. Gilchrest and Carney discuss the joys and challenges of being a local politician at a time when national politics is so divisive. ‘Get to know me’ is something they often find themselves saying to constituents who judge them solely on the ‘R’ or ‘D’ after their name.

The two representatives talk about listening and responding to their constituents, having their own prejudices upended, and how they find ways to agree for the good of their state.  All on this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground.

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Ep 64 – Millennial Politicians on Finding Common Ground

Jillian Gilchrest

Rep. Jillian Gilchrest represents Connecticut’s 18th district in Hartford County. Rep. Gilchrest was educated at the University of Connecticut where she received a Master of Social Work and teaches at the University of Saint Joseph, University of Hartford, and Sacred Heart University.

Prior to her election in 2018, she has a wealth of experience advocating for women’s issues. She serves on the board of directors for the two nonprofit entities that encompass The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in Connecticut. Additionally, Gilchrest has extensive public policy experience in women’s issues serving as the Policy Director at the Connecticut Association for Human Services, an Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, the Director of Health Professional Outreach for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Director of Public Policy and Communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.

Currently, Gilchrest serves on the Education, Appropriations, and Commerce Committees.

Devin Carney

State Rep. Devin Carney proudly represents the 23rd General Assembly District. He was elected to his fourth two-year term in November 2020. Rep. Carney was appointed to serve as the Ranking Member for the Transportation Committee for the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, having also served in this position in 2017-2018.

Carney graduated from Brandeis University in 2006 where he received a BA in Political Science and a BA in American Studies with a minor in Film. In addition to the legislature, Carney works in finance at John A Bysko Associates and as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.

Rep. Carney volunteers his time with many local organizations including serving on The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center Board of Trustees, as the Treasurer of the Board of Saybrook Senior Housing, a member of The Rotary Club of Old Saybrook, and as a member of both the Lyme-Old Lyme and Old Saybrook Chambers of Commerce. In addition, he serves as a member of the bipartisan Millennial Action Project, which brings together legislators 45 and under, and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. He also serves as an alternate member of the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals.

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Episode 63: Davia Temin - Crisis and Common Ground

Companies: Crisis and Common Ground

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Can American businesses help us find common ground?  An expert discusses the challenges and opportunities.

American business can be a force for finding common ground, but large corporations must now answer to a growing array of stakeholders, who often have opposing views on hot-button issues. In recent years, social media has also forced companies to respond immediately to a variety of conflicting demands.

We discuss these challenges with Davia Temin, a highly respected marketing and reputation strategist, crisis manager and communications coach. We also learn the ways that business can help contribute to improving public discourse at a time of polarization and political conflict.

In this episode, we hear about the daily hazards and opportunities for corporate leaders and get practical lessons on how they can respond to today’s changing political, cultural and social landscape in a clear, caring and authentic voice.

 

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Ep 63 – Companies: Crisis and Common Ground

Davia Temin

Davia Temin is the CEO of Temin and Company, a risk, reputation, leadership strategy, and crisis management consultancy. Davia works with corporate leaders around the world, helping them to refine and strengthen their vision, voice, and market position in times of crisis and opportunity.

A respected writer, commentator, and coach, she speaks globally and has appeared on CBS, CNN, NBC, Bloomberg, PBS, ABC, Reuters, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times and numerous other publications and networks around the world. Prior to founding the firm over 20 years ago with the backing of GE, Davia headed Corporate Marketing, Crisis and Risk Management, and Public Affairs for GE Capital, Schroders, Scudder, Citi Investment Bank, and Columbia Business School.

An NACD Board Leadership Fellow, Davia is the Chair of Video Volunteers, an international media and human rights NGO. She also Chairs the Board Development Committee and serves on the Executive Committee and Governance Committee on the Board of Girl Scouts of Greater New York. She also serves on the Boards or Advisory Boards of The Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship of Columbia Journalism School, and many public and private organizations.

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Episode 62 Climate Series - Daniel Yergin

Energy, Climate, and National Security: The New Map

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Can the global energy crisis be solved?  An expert assesses the evolving challenges and opportunities.

The world is being shaken by a collision of energy needs, climate change, and clashes between nations in a time of global crisis — made much worse by Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine. Roaring inflation has shocked consumers, the Biden Administration, and other governments around the world.

In this episode we discuss the rapidly growing challenges of national security as well as opportunities for common ground with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin, one of the world’s foremost experts on energy, international politics and economics.

We examine the reasons behind President Biden’s latest visit to Saudi Arabia, Europe’s rapidly growing dependence on U.S. oil and natural gas, and the changing threats to the West from Russia and China. Daniel Yergin’s book The New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations led to his selection as Energy Writer of the Year by the American Energy Society.

 

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Ep 62 – Energy, Climate, and National Security: The New Map

Daniel Yergin

Daniel Yergin is a highly respected authority on energy, international politics, and economics. He is Vice Chairman of IHS Markit, one of the world’s largest research and information companies; and chairman of CERAWeek, which CNBC has described as “the Super Bowl of world energy.”

He has served on the US Secretary of Energy Advisory Board under the last four presidents. He is a member of the Energy Policy Council of the Dallas Federal Reserve, a director of the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior trustee of the Brookings Institution. He also serves as a member of the National Petroleum Council, a director of the United States Energy Association, and of the US-Russia Business Council.

Dr. Yergin holds a BA from Yale University, where he founded The New Journal, and a PhD from Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.

He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prime Minister of India, and the first James Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security from the U.S. Department of Energy. Among other honors, he was also awarded the United States Energy Award for “lifelong achievements in energy and the promotion of international understanding,” and the Charles Percy Award for Public Service from the Alliance to Save Energy.

In addition to his latest book The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations, Dr. Yergin also authored the bestseller The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. He is known around the world for his book The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil Money and Power, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

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climate change podcast

Climate Action: A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground

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Can progressives and conservatives find common ground on climate change?

Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben warned the public about the perils of climate change and the damage human activity is causing more than forty years ago.

Former South Carolina Republican Congressman Bob Inglis became a climate activist much later, but he is no less passionate. Both differ on politics and who to vote for, but they agree on the goal of sharply reducing carbon emissions as soon as possible.

Inglis and McKibben join us for this episode of “Let’s Find Common Ground.” They sound the alarm for urgent action.

Bob Inglis is a conservative Republican and a committed believer in free enterprise capitalism and limited government. He’s executive director of RepublicEN.org, a conservative group that advocates for solutions to climate change.

Bill McKibben is a writer and teacher who has dedicated his life to stopping the climate crisis. He has written a dozen books about the environment, is a distinguished scholar at Middlebury College, and leads the climate campaign group 350.org. Last year Bill launched Third Act, a new campaign aimed at engaging activists over the age of 60.

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Ep 61 – Climate Action: A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is a contributing writer to The New Yorker, and a founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 to work on climate and racial justice. He founded the first global grassroots climate campaign, 350.org, and serves as the Schumann Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. In 2014 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel,’ in the Swedish Parliament. He’s also won the Gandhi Peace Award and honorary degrees from 19 colleges and universities. He has written over a dozen books about the environment, including his first, The End of Nature, published in 1989, and the forthcoming The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at his Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened.

Bob Inglis

Bob Inglis is the Executive Director of republicEn.org. He was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992, having never run for office before. He represented Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 1993-1998, unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings in 1998, and then returned to the practice of commercial real estate law in
Greenville, S.C. In 2004, he was re-elected to Congress and served until losing re-election in the South Carolina Republican primary of 2010.

In 2011, Inglis went full-time into promoting free enterprise action on climate change and launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (“E&EI”) at George Mason University in July 2012. In the fall of 2014, E&EI rebranded to become republicEn.org.

republicEn is a growing grassroots community of over 10,000 Americans educating the country about free-enterprise solutions to climate change. The organization is a 501(c)(3) operation hosted at the George Mason University Foundation and educates, recruits, and organizes conservative voices for action on climate change.

For his work on climate change, Inglis was given the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He appears in the film Merchants of Doubt and in the Showtime series YEARS of Living Dangerously (episodes 3 and 4), and he’s spoken at TEDxBeaconStreet and TEDxJacksonville.

Inglis was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in 2011, a Visiting Energy Fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2012, and a Resident Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics in 2014.

Inglis grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, went to Duke University for college, met and married his college sweetheart, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, and practiced commercial real estate law in Greenville, S.C., before and between his years in Congress. Bob and Mary Anne Inglis have five children (a son and four daughters). They live on a small farm in northern Greenville
County, South Carolina.

 

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Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step

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These political veterans disagree on many issues, except that now is the time for bridge building. Here’s why.

Kelly Johnston and Rob Fersh disagree strongly on many issues, and voted differently in the 2020 presidential election. But they are friends and “agree on major steps that must be taken for the nation to heed President-elect Biden’s welcome call for us to come together.”

Both believe that constructive steps must be taken to help build trust among Democrats and Republicans, despite deep polarization and a firm resistance to bipartisanship from both ends of the political spectrum. They encourage open dialogue between sectors and interest groups whose views diverge in an effort to deal with divisive political discourse.

Rob Fersh founded Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, and previously worked for Democrats on the staffs of three congressional committees. Kelly Johnston, also a founding board member of Convergence, is a committed Republican and former Secretary of the U.S. Senate. In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground produced in partnership with Convergence, we talk with both Fersh and Johnston about bridge building and why this work is so urgently needed in an era of political gridlock.

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Ep. 57- Depolarizing America: Building Consensus Step-by-Step

Rob Fersh

Rob Fersh is a Senior Advisor and the Founder of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, a non-profit organization founded in 2009 to promote consensus solutions to issues of domestic and international importance. Immediately prior, Rob served as the United States country director for Search for Common Ground, an international conflict resolution organization. While at SFCG, he directed national policy consensus projects on health care coverage for the uninsured and U.S.-Muslim relations.

In the 1986-98 period, Rob served as president of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a leading NGO working to alleviate hunger in the United States. Rob also served on the staffs of three Congressional committees, working for U.S. Representative Leon Panetta and for Senators Patrick Leahy and Edmund Muskie. While a Congressional staff member and at FRAC, he was deeply involved in shepherding passage of bipartisan legislation to reduce hunger in the United States. Rob has held additional positions in the federal executive branch and non-profit sector. He was a 1994 recipient of the Prudential Foundation Prize for Non-Profit Leadership. Rob holds a law degree from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, where he has served as a guest lecturer and co-instructor of a course on collaborative decision making and public policy. He is married, has four children, and two grandchildren.

Kelly Johnston

Kelly Johnston retired from the Campbell Soup Company in October 2018 after a 16-year career as Vice President-Government Affairs. Previously, Kelly spent nearly 25 years in Washington, DC in several leadership positions within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, politics, and the trade association world. He was Executive Vice President for Government Affairs and Communications at the National Food Processors’ Association (NFPA), serving as the organization’s chief government affairs and communications officer for nearly 6 years.

From 1995 to 1997, he was the Secretary of the US Senate, the Senate’s chief legislative, financial and administrative officer. Kelly has also served as Staff Director of the Senate Republican Policy Committee; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of Transportation; and chief of staff or press secretary to three Members of Congress.

Kelly remains active in the non-profit community. He is a founding board member of the Bonnie and Bill Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communication at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. He also currently serves on the board of Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), which is dedicated to helping employers educate their employees on public policy issues of importance to their jobs. He is a former chairman of the Canadian American Business Council and former co-chair of the Congressional Management Foundation. He blogs on public policy issues, history, and politics at Against the Grain.

A native of Oklahoma, Kelly earned his B.A. degree in Communications in 1976 from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where he has been named to the Alumni Hall of Fame. He attended Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Demography in Washington, D.C. He has guest lectured on politics, government, lobbying and communications at several universities, including Yale University, the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, Shepherd University, and Burlington County College in New Jersey.

He and his wife, Adrienne, live in Arlington, Virginia. They have two sons.

WATCH: Bridge Builders in Congress

In this moment of rising inflation and global conflict, an emerging story offers reason for hope: the movement to heal political polarization in America is gaining fresh momentum.

And, signs show, it comes just in time.

Recent polling by Fox News showed that 78% of all respondents said they were “extremely” or “very” concerned about political divisions within the country, ranking the issue among their top three concerns. Other outlets, too, are hearing alarm from citizens across the political spectrum about polarization’s threat to democracy. And with trust in government near an all-time low, this polarization threatens America’s strength both domestically and overseas.

In response, a growing movement of community groups across the country are working to bridge the divides. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is a prominent part of this movement, Common Ground Committee has been honored to highlight the work of elected officials who also recognize this troubling discord, and are undertaking the work of crafting bipartisan solutions.

Listen now: “Seeking Common Ground in Congress,” featuring Rep. Bryan Fitzpatrick (R) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D).

In a series of podcast and video interviews, we have explored approaches for breaking gridlock with legislators who are part of the Problem Solvers Caucus. This independent member-driven group in Congress is comprised of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans who are committed to finding common ground on key issues facing the nation.

Two weeks ago, members of the Problem Solvers Caucus joined other legislators who support bipartisan solutions to put forward the Building Civic Bridges Act. Introduced by nine Republicans and nine Democrats, the bill aims to establish the federal government as a key partner in the deliberate effort to bridge divides and strengthen American democracy.

Listen now: “How Problem Solvers Caucus Attacks Gridlock in Congress,” featuring Rep. Don Bacon (R) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D).

The legislation would empower communities to tackle sources of division through a new non-partisan pilot program, led by an Office of Civic Bridgebuilding within AmeriCorps, that would allocate competitive grants to civic and community organizations working to build relationships across lines of difference.

From interfaith groups working to build community understanding after attacks on religious institutions to local YMCAs partnering with conflict resolution experts and sponsoring community events, these community organizations are doing the on-the-ground work of building understanding across differences.

Backing their work is an entirely new way for Congress to look at improving bipartisanship and collaboration to help overcome deep ideological division across the country.

And, with the bill introduced just before President Biden’s first State of the Union address at which he introduced a Unity Agenda for the Nation with policy goals that enjoy broad bipartisan support, it’s a concept for which the time may have arrived at last.

“While it often appears that we never agree, that isn’t true,” Biden reminded the public, noting that he signed 80 bipartisan bills into law last year.

From sending emails or letters of gratitude to co-signers of the bill to asking your representatives to support these bipartisan efforts, we all have a chance to be part of the “healing polarization” wave that is building across the nation. We encourage Americans of all political persuasions to join in supporting this work.


Stay tuned for the next episode of our “Let’s Find Common Ground” podcast featuring Rep. Derek Kilmer (D) and Rep. William Timmons (R). As Chair and Vice-Chair of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, they are the author and co-sponsor respectively of the Building Civic Bridges Act. If you haven’t already, subscribe now to be notified of upcoming episodes.

How Problem Solvers Caucus Attacks Gridlock in Congress

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Is Congress as dysfunctional as it seems? Hear from two legislators in this candid conversation.

From the outside, Congress appears broken. Bills get bogged down in partisan fights, leaders openly smear each other, and animosity between members is at an all-time high. But our guests on today’s show demonstrate that if you look a little closer, you’ll find a group of dedicated politicians working together across the aisle to craft workable legislation and get things done.

Republican Congressman Don Bacon represents Nebraska’s 2nd District. Democrat Kurt Schrader represents Oregon’s 5th District. Each man is a member of the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, a group equally split between Democrats and Republicans who are committed to finding common ground on key issues facing the U.S.

In this surprisingly candid conversation listeners get a peek behind the curtain at what’s really going on in Congress, how the infrastructure bill was passed into law, and the harmful effect the media has on Americans’ view of politics. On this episode of “Let’s Find Common Ground.”

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Ep 49 – How Problem Solvers Caucus Attacks Gridlock in Congress

Don Bacon

Growing up and working on a farm in Illinois, Congressman Don Bacon learned first-hand how the value of hard work and commitment contributes to the success of a small business. He moved from the family farm to attend Northern Illinois University, from which he graduated with a Bachelors of Political Science in 1984, the same year he married Angie, the love of his life. They have three sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren. One year later, he began his military career by joining the U.S. Air Force and serving nearly 30 years, ultimately retiring as a Brigadier General.

During his career in the Air Force, Congressman Bacon specialized in electronic warfare, intelligence, and reconnaissance. His career highlights include two tours as a Wing Commander, at Ramstein Airbase in Germany and Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska; group command at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona; squadron command in Arizona, and expeditionary squadron command in Iraq. In total, Rep. Bacon served 16 assignments including four deployments in the Middle East to include Iraq in 2007 to 2008 during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Congressman Bacon’s military decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two Bronze Stars, two Legion of Merits, five Meritorious Service Medals, and the Aerial Achievement Medal. Additionally, he was selected as Europe’s top Air Force Wing Commander for his time at Ramstein Airbase, as well as recognized as a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, Navigator-Electronic Warfare School, and Officer Intelligence School. Further, Congressman Bacon has earned two Masters Degrees, from the University of Phoenix in Arizona and the National War College in Washington D.C.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force in 2014, Congressman Bacon served as the military advisor to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), where he specialized in military affairs focusing on Offutt Air Force Base and the Nebraska National Guard. He also was an Assistant Professor at Bellevue University where he taught Undergraduate Leadership along with American Vision and Values (The Kirkpatrick Signature Series), until his 2016 election to Congress, representing Nebraska’s Second Congressional District.

Presently, Congressman Bacon serves on two committees within the House of Representatives: the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Agricultural Committee.

Kurt Schrader

Congressman Kurt Schrader is currently serving his seventh term in the United States House of Representatives. He represents Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all of Marion, Polk, Lincoln and Tillamook Counties as well as the bulk of Clackamas and small portions of Multnomah and Benton Counties. Before being elected to Congress, Schrader, a farmer and veterinarian for more than thirty years, established and managed the Clackamas County Veterinary Clinic in Oregon City and operated his farm where he grew and sold organic fruit and vegetables.

In 1996, Congressman Schrader was elected to the Oregon State House of Representatives. There he served as a member of the Joint Ways & Means Committee. Schrader was one of five legislators asked by their peers to guide Oregon through the budget crisis of 2001-2002. Schrader was elected to the Oregon State Senate in 2003 and was immediately appointed to chair the Joint Ways & Means Committee. He continued to serve in that capacity until he was elected to U.S. Congress in 2008.

Congressman Schrader attended Cornell University where he received his BA in Government in 1973. He received his veterinary degree from the University of Illinois in 1977.

Congressman Schrader currently serves as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C), which oversees a wide portfolio of issues ranging from health care to the environment. Prior to joining E&C, Congressman Schrader served on the House Committee on Agriculture, where he served on the Farm Bill Conference Committee that successfully passed a five-year farm bill, the House Committee on Small Business and House Budget Committee. In the 117th Congress, Congressman Schrader serves on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, the Subcommittee on Energy, and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Schrader is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, New Democrat Coalition, and the only bipartisan working group in the House, the Problem Solvers Caucus.

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Convergence Center for Policy Resolution

How the Budget Mess in Congress Hurts All of Us

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Liberals and conservatives agree: the federal budget process is a mess. Can it be overhauled?

One of the key functions of Congress is to pass a budget. But often that seems close to impossible. Lack of agreement over federal spending regularly threatens to bring about government shutdowns, which affect millions of Americans. Yet few of us can even begin to understand the byzantine budget process.

Our guests on this week’s episode of Let’s Find Common Ground want to change that.

In this show, we meet two experts from different sides of the political aisle who came together with other policy experts to make the budget process simpler, more efficient and more transparent.

At the time of the Convergence dialogue, Alison Acosta Winters was a Senior Policy Fellow at Americans for Prosperity. Emily Holubowich was Executive Director of the Coalition for Health Funding. Alison is a fiscal conservative while Emily is an advocate for greater government support for health care. Still, each agrees that the current budget process is a mess and keeps Americans in the dark about how their money is being spent.

Brought together by Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, Alison, Emily and other stakeholders from diverse backgrounds spent months working together to come up with several major proposals for overhauling the budget process – proposals they hope will shine some light on how our government works. These proposals are currently being considered in Congress and enjoy bipartisan support.

This podcast was co-produced in partnership with Convergence Center for Policy Resolution and is one of a series of podcasts that Common Ground Committee and Convergence are producing together. Each highlights the common ground that resulted from one of Convergence’s structured dialogues-across-differences. Learn more about the Convergence budget dialogue and read more about the Convergence dialogue recommendations.

Join us for an interesting lesson in simplifying the arcane process of federal budgeting on “Let’s Find Common Ground.”

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Ep 48 – How the Budget Mess in Congress Hurts All of Us

Alison Acosta Winters

Alison Acosta Winters was most recently a Senior Policy Fellow at Americans for Prosperity and the Charles Koch Foundation where she worked on trade, economic, and fiscal policy. While there, Winters participated in the Convergence Building a Better Budget Process dialogue with a broad array of stakeholders that resulted in a series of policy recommendations that have received attention in Congress.

Prior to that, Winters was the Director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy at the Heritage Foundation. She wrote on a wide variety of economic issues, including co-authoring the Heritage Fiscal Plan Saving the American Dream. While at Heritage, Winters participated in the Fiscal Wake Up Tour which brought together policy experts from different perspectives to educate Americans about the unsustainable fiscal path the nation is on and policy choices that could address the problem.

Winters has appeared in numerous media outlets including Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, PBS and NPR. Her work has been seen in USA Today, Politico, The Hill, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and more.

Emily Holubowich

Emily joined the American Heart Association in 2019 as the Vice President of Federal Advocacy with more than twenty years of experience in health and fiscal policy, government relations, strategic communications, and coalition management. She is frequently sought out by the media for her expertise on public health and fiscal policy, serves as a lecturer in health policy and management at The George Washington University, and is called upon by national organizations to lecture on the policy environment and best practices in strategic communications and advocacy. In a volunteer capacity, Emily serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Previously, Emily was a senior vice president at CRD Associates, where she worked with several clients in the public health community—including the Coalition for Health Funding as its Executive Director. Prior to CRD Associates, Emily was the director of government relations for AcademyHealth and a senior health policy analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Emily holds a Master of Public Policy from The Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

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Infrastructure bill won’t end Washington’s problems. Neither would ending the filibuster

In this piece written for Roll Call, Common Ground Committee co-founders Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen make the case that the only real way to fix America’s political system is to focus on electing leaders committed to bipartisan solutions. 

Proponents of common ground — like ourselves — received some welcome news earlier this month with the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. It’s the largest investment in infrastructure since the 1950s, and it passed with 19 Republican votes. It’s a rare sight to see major legislation pass on a bipartisan basis, but, unfortunately, it does not necessarily signal a change in Washington.

Democrats seem intent on going it alone, using the budget reconciliation process to push a separate multitrillion spending package, partially due to the threat of the filibuster. For such a hotly debated rule, it’s notable that the filibuster was essentially created by accident. As vice president, Aaron Burr argued in 1805 that a Senate procedure allowing a simple majority of legislators to end debate and move to a vote was redundant and should be removed. He got his wish when he left office, and the filibuster was born.

Whether or not a political party is in favor of the filibuster seems to hinge on its position of power in the Senate.

Before he called it a “relic of Jim Crow”— and it must be acknowledged that the modern filibuster was a favored tool of opponents of civil rights legislation — a young Sen. Barack Obama argued passionately in favor of the procedural maneuver when his party was in the minority. President Donald Trump wanted Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell to eliminate the rule in 2018 to easily pass his agenda — much in the same way Democrats are now pressing President Joe Biden. Opponents of the filibuster say it’s an affront to how the Founders intended government to work and silences the will of the people. Proponents say it’s the one tool legislators have left to force bipartisan solutions and that its elimination would give the majority complete control to force through its agenda.

As heads of Common Ground Committee, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing political polarization, we welcome any tool that would encourage Democrats and Republicans to come together and find solutions. But the filibuster is neither the solution nor the problem. What needs to be changed is the mindset of our leaders. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House wouldn’t vote on the infrastructure bill until the Senate passed the  reconciliation measure. (In an agreement reached with Democratic moderates, both bills are now expected to receive votes in the House by the end of September.) In the Senate, McConnell has threatened “zero input” from Republicans if the filibuster is eliminated. We cannot afford this prioritization of conflict over solutions any longer.

We’re at a critical juncture as a nation.

If the filibuster is indeed removed or reformed, there will be little incentive for Democrats and Republicans to work together. If it remains, it will continue to be used as a tool to block legislation and stifle debate. Reforms such as a proposed plan to exempt voting rights laws from the filibuster would only slap a Band-Aid on the problem. The only path forward is to change the culture in Washington.

While there is evidence Americans want to see their leaders compromise, that sentiment isn’t reflected in who we elect to office. Prior to the 2020 elections, our organization released the Common Ground Scorecard, a tool to help Americans see how likely members of Congress and candidates were to find common ground. The average score for members of Congress and governors was only 25 out of a possible 110. There are exceptions, such as members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, but when the vast majority of our government leaders are incentivized to pursue partisan agendas, it’s clear we as citizens have not done enough to encourage them to work together. Our votes give us the power to make them listen.

It’s time to end this back-and-forth on the filibuster and put governing back in the hands of the legislative branch.

Rather than pressure our elected leaders on a Senate mechanism, we should focus our energies on backing candidates committed to bipartisan solutions — members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, for example. Tools like the Common Ground Scorecard and the Bipartisan Index from the Lugar Center can help voters identify those candidates.

The best policies are those that include the input of multiple points of view, that won’t be reversed when there is a change in power, and that are representative of the majority of Americans. That requires bipartisan work and support. Until elected officials feel political pressure to work together, we will fail to make that kind of badly needed progress on the most pressing issues facing our nation, regardless of whether or not the filibuster exists.

The filibuster may have been created by accident, but it’s now become a favored tool of whichever party is in the minority. Its elimination will not end the dysfunction in Washington. That will only happen when we as citizens decide we’ve had enough of fighting and gridlock, and support politicians who put country over party.

– This article was originally published in Roll Call on August 25, 2021.

American Bipartisanship

Introducing: Spotlight on Common Ground

Polarization makes headlines. But what about the hard, yet hopeful work of finding shared solutions? We’re excited to introduce Spotlight on Common Ground, a new initiative that highlights instances of bipartisan cooperation across the nation, and the individuals who made them possible.

August Honorees: Infrastructure Bill Legislators

The first honorees of Spotlight on Common Ground are the 10 U.S. senators who helped craft the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in the Senate 69-30. After months of negotiations this bipartisan group of senators — composed of five Democrats and Republicans — helped shepherd through a bill that could easily have been derailed given ideological differences and the forces driving the nation’s divided politics.

These legislators were among those included in our Common Ground Scorecard, which ranks candidates for office and elected officials on their likelihood to work with the opposite party. The 10 senators have an average score of 49/110, higher than the average score of 31/110 for all current U.S. senators.

Their individual scores are as follows:

  • Susan Collins (R-ME): 60/110
  • Rob Portman (R-OH): 50/110
  • Mitt Romney (R-UT): 25/110
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): 50/110
  • Bill Cassidy (R-LA): 59/110
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ): 57/110
  • Joe Manchin (D-WV): 75/110 (15th highest in the country)
  • Mark Warner (D-VA): 47/110
  • Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): 34/110
  • Jon Tester (D-MT): 42/110

“Too often, politicians are more focused on scoring political points than finding real solutions for the American people,” said Bruce Bond, co-founder and CEO of CGC. “These 10 senators reminded Americans what good can look like in the legislative process. We’re hopeful the Senate’s passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act can be a foundation for future cooperation between the two parties.”

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