An airport employee who I’ve come to know through the years recently asked why I bother coming home every Friday just to return to Washington a mere 72 hours later. The answer is simple: In addition to missing my family, I find there is no better reminder of the needs of the people I serve.
Lately, I have been struck by a common theme. While many in D.C. may be indifferent to the state of today’s politics, my constituents are sick and tired of it. They want to see civility restored, to see elected officials put their differences aside, and to see results. I share the frustration of my constituents. I am in Washington to get stuff done, and above all else to effectively govern, which requires cooperation and respect. The tone of the national conversation has to change.
With the advent of social media and the cacophony of cable news, it's almost as if we have forgotten that we can disagree without being disagreeable. People from both parties have good ideas, and the best laws are those that are the product of negotiation and input from all stakeholders.
My colleagues on the Left and the Right share the same goals of ensuring people are safe and prosperous. I’m a proud conservative, but I also respect all people regardless of their political views, and believe I can learn something from other people’s life experiences and perspectives. I remain committed to looking for areas where we can find common ground.
Bipartisanship works. Since coming to Congress, countless provisions I’ve authored and worked tirelessly on behind the scenes have been signed into law. As former President Harry Truman once said, “It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
So far in the 115th Congress, I’ve introduced 26 bills and co-sponsored 178 pieces of legislation. Almost a quarter of these bills have already passed the House, but there’s more work to be done. Most recently, I have been working to ensure continued healthcare for millions of people using community health centers, to lower the cost of prescription drugs, to guarantee the availability of affordable flood insurance, and to improve the safety of airline travel. Additionally, as vice-chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I work on a variety of initiatives to help our heroes. These initiatives will have a meaningful impact on millions of people and should have widespread support, regardless of political affiliation.
Our democracy cannot function without pragmatic, accomplished problem solvers. The people of my district want Congress to work together on some of the biggest challenges facing our nation including national security, healthcare, immigration, infrastructure, global competitiveness, and more. As we tackle these issues, I remain committed to putting people and ideas first. When we move beyond fear-mongering and name-calling, there is no limit to what our nation can accomplish.
Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Republican, represents Florida's 12th congressional district. You can follow him on Twitter: @RepGusBilirakis
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