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Words for Congress to live by: Stop fighting, start fixing

We're part of a new group of 25 'problem-solvers' in Congress who want to put aside party labels and ideological battles and find common ground. Although we are both of different parties, we are finding areas of agreement because we are actively seeking them out.

Speaker of the House John Boehner addresses the 113th Congress in the Capitol Jan. 3. Op-ed contributors Reid Ribble (R) of Wisconsin and Peter Welch (D) of Vermont write: 'Our desire for a new approach in Washington goes beyond seeking areas of shared policy goals. It also means embracing a new tone and adopting a new willingness to sit down with political and ideological opponents.'

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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Back home in Vermont and Wisconsin, one of the most frequent questions we hear is: Why can’t Congress work together and get something done?

As our constituents know, and as we – a Republican and Democrat in Congress – have experienced firsthand, today’s Washington too often approaches public policy challenges as ideological battles to win, rather than practical problems to solve. As the “to do” list in Washington gets longer and longer, it is no wonder Congressional approval ratings are at historic lows.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the recent election will fix the problem. Over 90 percent of incumbents were reelected. And despite the billions of dollars spent on campaigns, we ended up roughly where we started: with President Obama in the White House, Democrats controlling the Senate, and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives.


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