In an era of hyperpartisanship, occasions of cross-aisle cooperation often seem to be increasingly scarce — which is why a new Cornell-affiliated publication may offer a breath of fresh air.
On Thursday, the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs launched the first issue of the Bipartisan Policy Review, a publication in which elected officials from both sides of the aisle come together to discuss new ideas and policy proposals.
Any elected or formerly elected official, at any level of government, can submit an article, with just one condition: each piece must be co-authored by both a Democrat and a Republican.
According to the Institute’s director, former Long Island-based Representative Prof. Steve Israel, government, the mission for the biannual publication is “to serve as a platform for bipartisan thought on contentious policy issues.”
After retiring from Congress in 2017, Israel traveled across the country with a mission to prove to the American people that — despite the rancor broadcast by 24/7 cable news networks — opportunity for bipartisanship still remains in the halls of Congress. Most people did not believe him: “that’s not what they see on the news or on social media,” Israel said in a phone call with The Sun.
Even so, Israel hopes that the platform achieves two fundamental goals: To garner recognition for members of Congress who are working together across party lines and to establish a national platform for new bipartisan policy ideas.
“We try and take the most difficult issues and address them not by harping on where we disagree, but finding the narrow space of agreement and trying to expand it,” Israel said.
The inaugural issue, published on Thursday, contained work written by ten members of Congress, two sheriffs, a district attorney and the Staten Island borough president. The proposals ranged from the drug epidemic to Congress’s power to declare war.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), co-chairs of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, discussed the latter. The duo also joined the Institute in a virtual town hall on Thursday in time for the publication’s launch.
In a tweet on Thursday, Gottheimer said he was honored to be part of the inaugural issue of a “forward-looking platform” and thanked his “good friend and mentor” Israel.
I’m honored that my fellow Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Tom Reed, and I are able to be a part of the inaugural publication of the new Bipartisan Policy Review. (1/3)https://t.co/wiSXPrPXQW
— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) April 23, 2020
After the town hall Gottheimer tweeted about the event: “This is a trying time for every community throughout our country, but the cooperation taking place at every level gives me great hope.”
“Launching this during the COVID-19 crisis is as vital as any other time,” Israel said, echoing his former colleague. “People want both parties to work together, particularly in a time of crisis.”
It seems as if Congress may be somewhat heeding Israel’s hope — with the House almost unanimously passing a nearly $500 billion stimulus package on Thursday in a 388-5 vote.
In March, a Gallup poll reported that about 81 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans supported the initial $2.2 trillion spending bill signed into law on March 27, signaling a sense of bipartisanship in support for pandemic relief legislation.
If this kind of congressional cooperation continues, it seems this new Review will have many opportunities for content.
This piece is part of The Cornell Daily Sun’s Election 2020 Section. Read more of The Sun’s election coverage here.