The importance of seeking common ground

17 years ago

As this session of Congress comes to a close and we begin August recess, it is important to look back and reflect on the successes of the past few months.  A few achievements include the bipartisan legislation recently passed by the Senate to reauthorize the State Children Health Insurance Program and the consensus the Senate came to on increasing fuel efficiency standards earlier this summer. These are just a few examples of the way we can achieve common goals when working across party lines to get things done.     As a co-chair of the Common Ground Coalition with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), I am always looking for opportunities to bridge the political divide and find practical solutions to very real problems affecting our nation. That’s why I was so pleased that the Common Ground Coalition recently aligned with the Bipartisan Policy Center – led by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell. The Common Ground Coalition and Bipartisan Policy Center hope to form a collaboration that will seek bipartisan consensus on key national issues.
In July, Senator Landrieu and I attended our first meeting with Bipartisan Policy Center members Former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker and Tom Daschle to kick off a series of luncheon meetings. Starting in September, the Common Ground Coalition will join the Center in discussing key national issues like global climate change, port security, Iran’s nuclear capability, chronic disease prevention, and food safety.
The mission of both groups is to rise above partisan gridlock and get results to these urgent issues facing our nation. This seems like a natural process, reaching across the aisle to members of all ideological stripes, both new and old, to achieve the sort of consensus that is required to solve some of the greatest issues of our time. We can no longer let major policy stand motionless in the halls of a partisan Congress; we must bridge the divide with consensus-building and thought-provoking conversation in order to achieve progress.
This shared goal makes the two groups ideally suited to act in concert; these esteemed Leaders from both parties, uniquely qualified to understand the intricacies of guiding legislation and policy through the complexities of the Senate, join with the Common Ground coalition to find a middle ground. I am so honored to be working with Senator Landrieu and members of the Bipartisan Policy Center and I look forward to the seeking the path to bipartisanship that our country so desperately needs and deserves.
Throughout my tenure in the U.S. House and Senate, I have tried to remain independent of partisan lines and faithfully represent the state of Maine. I believe in order to best serve the needs of all Americans, both parties must build bipartisan consensus on key issues like homeland security, energy issues, and healthcare policy.
I always remember the words of Maine’s former Senator Margaret Chase Smith who once said “It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and start thinking as Americans.” I believe there is strength in compromise and what is most important is not which side of the political aisle votes are cast, but the number of Americans who benefit from the legislation that is passed. I hope that members of Congress, the Common Ground Coalition and the Bipartisan Policy Center can work together to do what is best for Americans.