[RESPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF] Achieving Progress in the Most Partisan Congress in History (Los Feliz Ledger)

Despite a flurry of bipartisanship late last year that achieved some notable victories—a long-term surface transportation bill to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, an education bill, and a year-long funding bill—last year was one of Congress’s least productive and most partisan in history.

Even in such a hostile environment, it is possible to seek out bipartisan agreement on important issues. The key to doing so—in my experience—is to establish good working relationships with people on both sides of the aisle, to avoid making policy differences personal and to recognize that your opponent on one issue may be your best ally on another.

I wanted to share with you just a few of the issues where we have made progress in 2015 and what I hope to advance further in 2016.


First, we had major success in funding a West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System, a critical tool to help save lives and infrastructure. With the help of my colleague, Representative Ken Calvert (R-California), were able to secure over $8 million in federal funding to construct this critical system, on top of a significant investment last year. Even a few seconds of warning will allow surgeons to take out the scalpel, engineers to shut down trains and ordinary citizens to move to a safe place.


Second, we have been able to make substantial progress on our efforts to expand the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include the Rim of the Valley.  The National Park Service released their draft report and within the next few weeks, we expect it will issue its final recommendations on expanding and protecting the Rim of the Valley corridor. The legislation that I authored to initiate the study was signed by President Bush, funded by a Republican Congress and supported by President Obama. Once that report is released, I plan on immediately working with the community to author legislation to preserve this open space for future generations.


Third, the issue that I hear the most about from my constituents and from others around the country involves the threat to the homeland from ISIS and terror groups. This past year, I was selected to be the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and I worked on a number of bills that are now signed into law including cybersecurity legislation, a bill authorizing and overseeing all our intelligence agencies and a major reform to end the government’s collection of phone metadata.


On all of these bills, my Chairman, Representative Devin Nunes (R-California), and I worked together to make sure that partisan differences never got in the way of the safety of our country. In light of the terrible attacks at the end of last year in San Bernardino and Paris, I’ll continue to make sure no effort is spared in combatting the scourge of ISIS until we defeat it on the battlefield and put an end to its vile propaganda over social media.


Looking forward to this year, I am optimistic about the prospects for bipartisan action to reform our criminal justice system and sentencing practices, and will continue to advocate for passage of the comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform that earlier passed the Senate.


I am far less sanguine about our chances when it comes to passage of common sense gun safety legislation, like universal background checks and curbs on assault weapons and extended ammunition clips. I will be reintroducing my bill to repeal the gun industry’s immunity from liability—a unique immunity not enjoyed by any other industry and an issue that has taken center stage in the presidential race. But all of these gun measures will run into staunch opposition from the NRA and will be even more difficult in an election year.


Even in a political climate known for its dysfunction, each new year presents the opportunity to make progress on issues that are important to our district and to our country.


I hope you will share your ideas for areas where we can find common ground and move the nation forward.


Rep. Adam Schiff represents California’s 28th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Source: Los Feliz Ledger