Author: Linda

The New Congress Is Coming

The New Congress Is Coming

On the issues: Rep. Michelle Steel and Jay Chen on abortion, immigration and healthcare

RICHMOND, Va. — With every passing term, Congress is entering a new era. As representatives of different districts, different parties and different generations, we have come to have different ideas about what our country looks like and what its priorities are. The next Congress will not just be comprised of representatives of different parties — it will also be different in its very composition. As Rep. Michelle Steel, ranking Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee, says: “People are very different as they approach the issues of the day, and that makes our job very difficult.”

Our nation’s future is on its knees. We’ve now lost over 700,000 jobs since President Obama took office. More than 4.8 million people have been left out of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of people living in poverty has increased to 17.7 percent of all Americans and the U.S. now has the second highest child poverty rate in the developed world, just behind Mexico, where 38 percent of children live in poor or near-poor conditions.

That’s what we face as a nation. And at our peril.

In order to begin this new era of change, we must first acknowledge that we are in the midst of a significant political realignment that is fundamentally altering the future of our nation. As my colleague Josh Archambault, vice-chair of the Virginia Democratic Party, said about the new congressional members: “A lot of them are white and male, a significant number are old enough to remember the Civil Rights movement. We are seeing an all-male slate of congress, which is very unique in the history of the United States.”

What does this new political reality mean for our country?

In my view, it’s time to begin to think beyond the partisan battles that dominate so many of our political conversations. For decades, America’s political realignment has had two components, a large, centrist national party and a growing number of independent voices. That has been true of both parties. The national Democratic Party, for the most part, has been driven by centr

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