As U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s column today proves, a Republican-led Congress in sometimes shaky partnership with a Republican president has accomplished more than one might initially imagine. This newspaper has supported some of this, including appointment of Neil Gorsuch to a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court vacancy and steady progress on the bipartisan Fix NICS bill to ensure existing gun laws are enforced.
But as the new year begins and Congress reassembles, we encourage lawmakers from Texas to keep in mind the legitimate concerns of Sen. John McCain, including the fact regular order appears less and less obvious. Both furor over repealing and replacing the flawed Affordable Care Act (which failed) as well as razor-thin passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act created ill will nationwide — at least partially because they weren’t bipartisan and invited little buy-in by skeptics.
Such bad feelings will likely complicate relevant business almost immediately facing lawmakers returning for 2018: a long-term solution for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has just enough funding through early spring; permanent protections for illegal immigrant children not born in the United States but long raised here; and legislation to avoid a costly government shutdown.
Time on this last-mentioned potential crisis is short. It must be addressed promptly, and with a bipartisan majority, lest the short-term government funding bill passed just before the holidays expires on Jan. 19. And if that’s not threatening enough to our economy, then consider this: Lawmakers must also raise the national debt ceiling come March.
Yes, in occasional conversations with our congressman, Republican Bill Flores, we’ve heard what is a regular refrain from Republicans running Congress: Democrats just won’t cooperate. Maybe so. Yet we question if Republicans running the show couldn’t show more initiative in enlisting moderate Democrats to help craft solutions that might be acceptable to majorities on both sides of the aisle.
This is what we advise Congressman Flores, an influential and respected Republican who has the ear of House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Sen. Cornyn, who as majority whip obviously has much to say about how Senate Republicans proceed. Given some of the other heavy lifts of the year — including a possible infrastructure bill — now is the time to recognize bipartisan solutions must become the standard.
Granted, party hacks and extremists in both parties will fight compromise and bipartisan solutions within the ranks. But if crisis after crisis piles up in Congress that costs the economy billions, strikes growing numbers of voters as utterly avoidable or hypocritical and, finally, angers a president sometimes derogatory about leadership in his own party, Republican have much to lose. There are ways to avoid such losses while putting our nation on a more rational course. And in case this isn’t completely obvious, it also means putting the country’s interests over their political party’s. The latter’s prescription, for better or worse, was pretty much modus operandi for all big-ticket legislative items in 2017.