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Bipartisan Cooperation Deserves More Recognition


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With so many negative headlines coming out of Washington, it's easy to get wrapped up in the storyline that business in Congress has come to an unproductive standstill. Amid the many stories about Congressional "obstruction" there are ways in which we come together in Washington to make good policy. What Congress achieved last week deserves recognition -- a week which demonstrated when good, responsible policy initiatives are offered, there is clear and vocal bipartisan support for them.

Last week's bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses, will fix a long-troublesome tax reporting problem. Congress passed a law in 2005 intending to crack down on tax evasion. The law stated, if you were a contractor doing business with the federal government or state and local governments, that the government would withhold three percent of what you're owed until you've paid your taxes for that year.

Contractors will tell you that three percent can be critical to their bottom line and remaining profitable. Following its passage, many worried the law would discourage contractors from working with government bodies at all, and in fact it has twice been delayed and has yet to go into effect. Congress came together last week to repeal this misguided law for good by a significant bipartisan margin.

The legislation repealing this provision also contained some very positive pieces of veterans legislation. This includes a tax credit for businesses that hire out-of-work veterans, as well as job training and a program to help transition returning veterans back into civilian life. I'm pleased one of my proposals was included -- a study to determine the potential benefit of the Department of Defense certifying servicemen and women for civilian jobs that match their military occupation. This could help service members already trained as electricians, mechanics, EMTs, truck drivers, and other jobs, when they return home. It could also potentially save the government money by eliminating the need to retrain and re-educate veterans for jobs they already know how to do.

The veterans provisions and the repeal of the three percent withholding provision are examples of what happens when sound policy is proposed and advanced in Congress. Partisan gridlock often occurs when policy is proposed not to better the country, but to "send a message" by offering something most know will receive substantial opposition. On the other hand, consider the three percent withholding bill and its accompanying veterans legislation; or the free trade agreements signed into law last month; or the repeal earlier this year of the 1099 tax reporting mandate, which received an exceedingly rare 87 Senate votes. These are the result of sound policymaking and resounding bipartisan support.

The Senate passage of these pieces of legislation to create jobs, lower the deficit, boost our ag producers and overall economy, and free up our job-creating small businesses are all a result of Republicans, Democrats and Independents working together for our country. I will continue to support proposals like these. To be clear, I will also continue to oppose policies I believe to be bad for our country. But we should not overlook the power of good policy to bring Congress together in the best interest of our country.

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