March 30, 2019

Quick Takes (v34): Kudos for Katko

Quick Takes
A couple of weeks ago John Katko, my congressman, received one of six 2019 Legislative Action Awards from the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington DC.

Katko was honored with five others -  Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), and fellow representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) - for "breathing new life into the legislative process" and for their leadership on efforts such as criminal justice reform and the opioid crisis.

All six of the recipients have been in their current positions for six years or less and have
demonstrated skill and courage in the face of political challenges to confront a political problem, provide a positive tenor to the legislative process, and improving the functioning of Congress through their example. 
According to a statement by Jason Grumet, the BPC president,
The Legislative Action Awards recognize members with the unique capacity to identify common interests and get things done. It takes real skill and commitment to govern a divided country. Thankfully, there are still true legislators in the Congress who understand how to build coalitions that deliver sound policy for the American people. It is an honor to recognize six of these leaders today and remind the public that principled collaboration is the essence of effective democracy. 
So. what is the Bipartisan Policy Center?

It's a think tank co-founded by former Republican Senators Bob Dole and Howard Baker and former Democratic Senators Tom Daschle and George Mitchell. The organization, which
actively promotes to address the key challenges facing the nation. (Its) policy solutions are the product of information deliberations by former elected and appointed officials, business and labor leaders, and academics and advocates who represent both ends of the political spectrum...(and) are currently focused on health, energy, national security, the economy, financial regulatory reform, housing, immigration, infrastructure and governance. 
Katko, in a statement, noted he was honored to receive the award and  that
I pride myself in my ability to work with any of my Republican or Democrat colleagues to address common issues facing our constituencies. As the 116th Congress progresses, I will continue to reach across the aisle to create positive solutions to address the issues facing out country, including addressing the ongoing opioid crisis and fixing our aging infrastructure.
This award comes as he was scored the third most bipartisan member of the 115th Congress, according to scoring by the Lugar Center.  Here, an index is used to come up with a score that measures majority and minority legislators against a two-decade historical baseline, considering how many times bills initiated by a legislator are co-sponsored by the other party, and how many times the legislator co-sponsors bills introduced by a colleague from across the aisle.
What we are measuring in this Index is not so much the quality of legislation but rather the efforts of legislators to broaden the appeal of their sponsored legislation, to entertain a wider range of ideas, and to prioritize governance over posturing.
I'm a firm believer in bipartisanship, and I think it's good for our district to see Katko recognized for what he considers a hallmark of his time in Congress and of his promise to us when he initially ran - and in the two elections since.  Katko regularly works with others in the NY delegation, particularly Anthony Brindisi, who represents the neighboring district. He's also a member of the Problem Solvers caucus, a group that, to be honest, I wish we'd hear more of, and from.

And I'm happy to see two representatives from New York on this short list. Perhaps this will help show our elected officials in Albany that it's possible - and preferable - to work with the other guys not to shut them out, to come up with policies that benefit everyone.

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