Spotlight Exclusives

Senators Cassidy, Hassan Stress Bipartisan Compromise

Spotlight Staff Spotlight Staff, posted on

Sens. Maggie Hassan and Bill Cassidy captivated a Capitol Hill audience on Tuesday and reassured them that bipartisan cooperation is alive and well in Congress when it comes to issues impacting the lives of working families.

Hassan (D-N.H.) and Cassidy (R-LA) took part in an event hosted by Spotlight and American Policy Ventures, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation, that explored bipartisan pathways to support pro-family policies.

Hassan said that her general definition for pro-family policies is to focus on an effort “to make life work and make the economy work for families from all corners of my state and our country.”

She and Cassidy are working together on a specific piece of legislation—the Connected MOM Act, which would allow expectant mothers to receive medical monitoring remotely during their pregnancies—but also spoke about possible bipartisan compromises on paid family leave, particularly for new parents, and a possible revival of a scaled down version of the expanded Child Tax Credit.

Hassan said she has been struck by how increasingly apolitical some of these policy discussions have become, a fact she said is likely due to the personal experiences of constituents and even members of Congress. “When I was in the state Senate—I hate to say how many years ago that was—and then as governor, it was really a discussion that mostly Democrats had. But now what we see is Republicans and Democrats and Independents, all of whom not only have constituents who are talking to them about this, but we all have our own life experience.”

Cassidy acknowledged, however, that bipartisan dialogue isn’t easy. “Sometimes you work hard, and you put together a bipartisan solution which appeals across the spectrum,” he said, “and politics intervenes. It’s incredibly disappointing.”

Cassidy told the crowd of advocates, analysts, journalists, and congressional staffers “and that’s why we need your help. We need your help to make sure that these issues are raised in a positive way so that Republicans and Democrats don’t get away with demagoguing an issue, and misleading the American people as to potential solutions, but instead are forced to come to the table with something which benefits individuals and benefits families. And by the way, benefits us all.”

The give-and-take between the two senators was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Adrienne Schweer of the Bipartisan Policy Center and featuring Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan; Ja’Ron Smith, former senior domestic policy advisor during the Trump administration; conservative consultant and policy analyst Abby McCloskey, and Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president, and executive director at CLASP.

All the panelists agreed that finding a path to re-instituting some kind of additional child tax credit is a key discussion at the moment. McCloskey said that “an additional wrinkle or opportunity in there that I would add is increasing the flexibility of the existing credit. That if a family can claim the full credit, which is a subject of good debate, that’s $34,000 when their child is between the ages of zero and 17. That’s a lot of money.”

Said Shaefer: “What a great example of two policy makers in conversation with another each other and finding common ground. Of course, the thing I love most in my heart is the child tax credit. And so it’s wonderful to hear that some conversation about the expansion of that is on the table.”

The group also echoed the broader sentiments of Hassan and Cassidy that compromise, particularly on issues so important to already at-risk communities, should be seen as a victory, not a failure.

Gutta-Dupta said that advocates on both sides of the aisle see themselves as fighters for their true beliefs, and “sometimes it can be hard then to say, oh, well now, I’m going to compromise. But to me, when we get back to what Senator Hassan said about defending democracy and protecting our democracy, compromise is fundamental. At the end of the day, you can achieve transformative change. It may take longer than we’d like, it may take decades, but compromise and getting things done can actually help lay the groundwork.”

“When you use words like compromise, and I know we need that, it pushes people away because no one wants to compromise,” said Smith “They say, ‘I didn’t come to Washington to compromise’ But there is a way to find common ground. There are areas where, you know, our constituencies care about the same thing.”

Doris Duke Foundation President Sam Gill also made remarks at the event and lauded Hassan and Cassidy for setting an example for other members of Congress. “I think Senators Cassidy and Hassan show commitment to this idea that politics and policy can align in ways that deliver real solutions to the real problems people are facing in a time of profound change. And I hope their top colleagues take heed of their commitment to substantive discussions like this.”

To watch the event recording, click here.

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