Why Trust Is in Short Supply on Capitol Hill
“When we had a strong committee system, you had a strong relationship of trust between the chair and the non-commissioned member,” said Ms. Collins, one of the bipartisan infrastructure negotiators. “Now, because the structure and power of committees has diminished and more and more laws are drafted either by groups like ours or by the chief’s office, it is more difficult to create those bonds of trust that allow you to get things done. “
The confidence gap only widened after the Jan.6 assault on Capitol Hill. Many Democrats believe the Republicans were complicit, and some Republican lawmakers have subsequently sought to downplay the events of that day or blame the other party for it.
The recent deaths of three highly regarded former Senators – Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and John Warner, Republican of Virginia, and Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming – have awakened memories of a time when lawmakers from different political parties failed were not always at each other’s throats.
“Carl was a senator’s senator,” Kent Conrad, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, said of Mr. Levin, a longtime friend and colleague who died Thursday at the age of 87. “He’s shown everyone, whether you agree with him or not, how you work down the aisle. You just hope that kind of spirit is rekindled.
Mr Biden and the bipartisan group are promoting the infrastructure deal as proof that the Senate is still capable of such things. But it is also proof of the difficulty of reaching an agreement, which suggests that it will be very difficult to make other agreements.
The Infrastructure Bill is a sweeping public works and jobs bill with something for everyone, the kind of pork barrel measure that was once the bread and butter of Congress. Yet bringing what should be very popular legislation to debate in the Senate took the concerted support of the White House, the cooperation of the Senate leadership, and weeks and weeks of intense talks. The measure could still crumble at any time – and that’s before the House gets its hands on it.
Mr Coons agreed the level of trust looked bad from the outside, but said it was better than it looked inside the institution.
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