Tales from the Trail

In House, bipartisanship is in eye of the beholder

October 1, 2010

A top Democrat is fed up with House Republican Leader John Boehner citing their work together years ago as an example of Boehner’s commitment to bipartisanship.

Representative George Miller says Boehner — in line to become House speaker if Republicans win the chamber in the Nov. 2 election — is long-time partisan and everyone should know it.

“The fact is, the only bipartisan moment Representative Boehner can point to is working with me nine years ago” on an education bill that Republican President George W. Bush “had made a priority,” Miller said. “Everything since has been partisan opposition to issues of great importance to America’s middle class.” BUSH TAXES

Kevin Smith, a Boehner spokesman, on Friday accused Miller of “revisionist history,” and charged that President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats have been the ones shutting Republicans out of the legislative process the past two years.

Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, issued his statement on Thursday, shortly after Boehner publicly pointed to their joint efforts from 2001 to 2006 while Boehner was chairman of the Education committee and Miller was its top Democrat.

“No one would confuse me and George Miller for ideological soul mates,” Boehner said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. “But in just a few short years, we were able to work together and transform our committee from a ‘backwater’ panel that nobody wanted to be on to an active panel at the center of some of the biggest issues of the day.”

“There is no reason that every single committee in the House can’t achieve the same thing,” Boehner said.

Miller replied:¬† “Lately … John Boehner has enjoyed referring to his work with me nine years ago as if to suggest that he is bipartisan. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.”

“Our work together on ‘No Child Left Behind’ was one moment in time that has itself been left behind,” Miller said.

Miller said while he and other Democrats worked with Boehner to pass the measure, a top Bush priority, Boehner and other Republicans have failed to step up to help Obama.

“Unfortunately, over the last two years, the Obama administration and Democratic leaders have willfully chosen to ignore Republican ideas and go-it-alone on every big issue of the day, whether it was the ‘stimulus,’ health care, or their national energy tax,” Boehner’s spokesman responded.

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Theiler (Boehner, Bush, Miller at meeting on education policy Jan. 25, 2001)

Comments
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I don’t doubt that Republicans have been shut out of most Congressional influence, but they should be grateful after the way they ignored traditions and treated Democrats when they controlled Congress that they haven’t been locked out of the buildings.

The only way to fix this problem is to replace every member of Congress, Republican, Democrat or Independent, every two years until we wind up with a bunch of people with common sense and moderate views who can work together toward the national benefit. That won’t happen because of gerrymandering that gives each party strong advantages in the majority of Congressional districts nationally. So, we might as well learn to live with more partisanship until a generational change in Congress happens.

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