Getting things done in Washington is impossible unless lawmakers show a willingness to work constructively with others, including those in the opposing political party. That’s the central requirement now, with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, and it most likely will be the case if Democrats gain control of one or both houses after the November elections.

The Senate, for example, requires 60 votes for nearly all legislation to pass.

Given these circumstances, candidates in Nebraska and Iowa who are running for the U.S. House or Senate need to think through and explain how they would help steer legislation to success.

At election time, candidates tend to play to the party base, checking off an issues list. But once a candidate is elected or re-elected, getting things done in Washington requires a willingness to respect others and negotiate responsibly, especially on complex, difficult issues. Members of Congress also need the ability to explain to voters back home that compromise is necessary in a national legislature with so many differing perspectives, including within the parties themselves.

Too many lawmakers in Washington don’t make this needed effort. The result, as the entire country has seen, is that major issues remain unresolved.

Immigration policy, for example, remains hotly debated on Capitol Hill, but with no resolution to various issues. Meanwhile, young people in the DACA program — who number nearly 800,000 nationally, including more than 3,300 in Nebraska and about 2,800 in Iowa — remain in legal limbo.

Similarly, lawmakers have removed parts of Obamacare and made various changes to it, for example, but federal health care policy remains a muddle, with big uncertainties and disagreements over how to proceed. Yes, disagreement is very wide among Americans over how to adjust or overhaul health policy. Regardless, Congress over time will still have to make specific decisions on health care matters, and our country needs lawmakers who will seek constructive agreement.

Another requirement for candidates, regardless of party or political philosophy, is that they understand the breadth of their district and work to address local needs. VA hospital needs in the Omaha area provide an example: The 2nd District U.S. House member, regardless of party, has had an obligation to understand veterans’ needs and work to have them addressed.

Another local example: the 55th Wing’s ongoing need for support to replace decades-old jets under enormous stress. The World-Herald’s Steve Liewer reported on the issue in detail in a recent investigative series.

Not least, the congressional delegations for Nebraska and Iowa need to be stalwart in explaining agricultural needs to colleagues and working to see that our region’s interests are taken into consideration. Congress could help greatly on that score by asserting its legitimate authority on international trade policy.

As things currently stand, the nation’s legislative branch has conceded that control to President Donald Trump, who has used the dubious rationale of national security to impose tariffs on trade with our neighbors and allies. The resulting market disruptions are raising tremendous concern for our region’s agricultural producers.

Republican lawmakers shouldn’t automatically rubber-stamp every administration proposal, and neither should Democrats leap to oppose them. Lawmakers need to exercise independent judgment rather than resorting to knee-jerk partisan stances.

Midlands voters would do well to examine those running for Congress this fall, sizing up how they match up against the requirements of responsible service. Electing members of Congress is an important decision, not to be taken lightly.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.