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EDITORIAL: Without bipartisanship, policy is short-sighted and likely short-lived

Major votes in Congress are made on razor-thin margins these days.

In the hours leading up to the Senate’s vote on a $1.5 trillion tax bill, Republicans secured their final few votes to pass the bill 51 to 49 in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

We’re disappointed in the process and that Senators rushed to pass sweeping legislation that the American people had little time to review, much less understand.

While GOP leaders were quick to claim victory — Wyoming’s Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso among them — Democrats were quick to criticize.

Unsurprisingly, no Democrats voted for the GOP tax reform bill; one Republican opposed it.

Party-line votes on significant legislation rushed through Congress follow a narrative Americans know all too well.

Eight years ago this month, Democrats in the U.S. Senate passed the Affordable Care Act on Christmas Eve without a single GOP vote. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine had supported an earlier version of the health care bill, but ultimately voted no in December 2009 because she believed Democrats were moving too quickly to get the bill off the floor, according to The Hill. Sound familiar?

Republicans vowed then to fight Obamacare, and it’s a battle they continue to wage nearly a decade later: Their tax bill repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate.

Just as Republicans have fought the Affordable Care Act at every turn, we anticipate Democrats will now battle against the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act whenever they can.

Since President Donald Trump was elected, Democrats have adopted a tactic of obstruction. It’s likely that the next time there is Democratic control in D.C., they will dismantle everything from the Trump era — just as the president and Congress have sought to do with Obama-era legislation and policies.

Herein lies the problem: Without bipartisanship support, how long will any law actually last?

In a column for National Review, Kevin D. Williamson said Republicans committed the same sins Democrats did in ramming through Obamacare, including “the ‘we have to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it’ approach to lining up votes behind legislation nobody had read, which was still being amended well into the evening ... sometimes with notes scribbled in the margins.”

And then there’s the problem of the partisanship. Williamson said bipartisan compromises “are desirable not because bipartisanship and compromise are virtuous but because achieving broad political buy-in is the only way to produce stable and long-lasting policy settlements.”

Rather than crafting momentous legislation together, our lawmakers in D.C. spend more time trying to tear apart the opposing side.

In 1986, the last time Congress passed a tax reform bill, 41 Republicans and 33 Democrats in the Senate voted for it, after the bill was debated over the course of months. Given today’s political climate, those tallies seem extraordinary.

We continue to hope that Congress will get its House (and Senate) in order, because repeated voting on party lines only deepens the chasms of our divided nation.

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