Does this sound familiar? Congress is more partisan than ever; Republicans and Democrats do not know how to work together; the Parties are so divided that nothing gets accomplished. But there have been a number of issues for which Republicans and Democrats have recently worked across the aisle with one another.
Here are eight issues where Republicans and Democrats demonstrate a spirit of bipartisanship:
The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief began under the George W. Bush administration and continues to be supported by the Barack Obama administration. Over five million people are currently getting treatment through PEPFAR. The program is also the primary source of revenue for a plan to eradicate all transmissions of HIV from mother to child by 2015.
It is up for reauthorization this year and its main supporters in Congress include both Republicans and Democrats. In a year of tight budgets, supporters of the program are worried, but they are also hopeful that the bipartisan nature of the support will save the program.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed this year with bipartisan support in the House (286-138) and Senate (93-5). Leadership for passage of the Act came from Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have cosponsored a bill that would essentially do away with mandatory minimum sentencing. The House version of that bill was introduced by Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) is one of the cosponsors.
Plus, the House currently has a bipartisan 10-member task force working on an effort to reduce the number of federal crimes, an effort that began with liberal, conservative and libertarian think tanks working together to point out the problems associated with overcriminalization. The task force's findings are due later this year.
Republicans are more divided on the issue of immigration reform than Democrats. Because of that, an immigration reform bill passed in the Senate with the support of every Democrat and 14 of 48 Republicans. If a similar bill comes up for a vote in the House, analysts predict a similar outcome, with some portion of the Republican caucus and all, or nearly all, Democrats voting for it.
Issues related to privacy versus national security have shaken up the usual left/right split in Congress. This was shown recently in a House vote to defund the National Security Agency's phone data collection program. 111 Democrats joined 94 Republicans in support of the amendment, which was barely defeated by 134 Republicans joining 83 Democrats.
This Congress, and the previous Congress, have made several changes with regard to adoption policy with bipartisan support. The adoption tax credit was made permanent and refundable, the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act was passed, and a fix to a problem with citizenship for those adopted from another country was passed. Plus, a bipartisan group of senators and congresspersons have asked President Obama to urge Russian President Putin to allow the adoption of Russian children by American parents.
Military Sex Assaults
After the Pentagon announced a report showing that as many as 26,000 military personnel may have been sexually assaulted last year, the Senate worked on a bill to address the issue. That bill, though, did not go far enough for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), because it uses the military's chain of command to address the issue.
Gillibrand's alternative bill that would take the responsibility to prosecute sexual assault cases out of the hands of military commanders now has the support of Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and two of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate: Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.).
Breaking Up Big Banks
The Tea Party Movement and the Occupy Wall Street Movement are on opposite ends of the political spectrum but they agree on one thing – they hate big banks. Occupy sees them as wealth-accumulators at the expense of the downtrodden. Tea Party sees them as government cronies sucking at the teat of big government. They both see them as corrupt.
This potential alliance can be seen emerging in a few different congressional efforts. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and David Vitter (R-La.) have introduced a bill that would eliminate government subsidies for large banks and increase their capital requirements. Similarly, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are working on legislation that would limit the types of investment activities that banks are allowed to engage in.