Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star: Editorial: Virginia lawmakers show how cooperation works


Democrats and Republicans working together? Sounds like we’ve dozed off and awakened decades ago, in an era when national politicians reached across the aisle to do something other than slap each other.

No, Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy are not likely to vacation together. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer don’t seem disposed to have a kind word for each other until one of the other of them expires.

There is a glimmer of hope on Capitol Hill, though, and it’s something about which Virginians should be proud.

According to Sen. Mark Warner, our state’s two U.S. senators (he and fellow Democrat Tim Kaine) and 11 members of the U.S. House of Representatives meet monthly to talk about how to address their state’s needs.

Warner, in a talk to a Hampton Roads group recently, said that every large state did this 30 years ago.

The only one that does it now is Virginia.

Warner says this cooperation is no reason for applause, that everyone should be doing it. However, if Virginia is the only state doing what ought to be universal, it does make our state’s national leaders worthy of kudos. Even if the bar for standing tall is so low a grasshopper could clear it, at least our senators and representatives are making the effort.

There are countless Virginia issues that cross party lines. Universal broadband. Infrastructure in general. Recovering economically from COVID. Climate change. The state’s huge connection to the military. Saving the Bay.

Meeting once a month won’t bring everyone into kumbaya harmony. It’s still a safe bet that our 11 representatives will almost always do what just about every other House member does—vote the party line—but at least they’re talking to each other.

The late Sen. John Warner began the monthly conferences decades ago. Warner was a Republican of a bygone era, when the two parties could occasionally work together. They’re led these days by Rep. Bobby Scott. Kudos to Rob Wittman (1st District), Abigail Spanberger (7th) and the other representatives, red and blue, who are making the effort to put Virginia’s needs ahead of party politics at least once a month.

The meetings have gone on when there was a Republican majority in the House delegation, and it continues now with eight Democrats among the 11 representatives. If the 2022 elections cause that balance to swing back to the right, it is hoped that it won’t affect those monthly meetings.

Now, more than ever, we need to talk.

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