21 Jul BPC Honors Sens. Alexander and Murray with 2020 Patriot Award; Sens. Cassidy and Smith, and Reps. Murphy and Graves with 2020 Legislative Action Awards in Government Reform
At the Bipartisan Policy Center and BPC Action, we recognize the willful tenacity required in Congress to tackle the challenges facing our nation and make a difference in the lives of Americans. That is why we created two awards to recognize creative and courageous members who exemplify productive partisanship. The Patriot Award recognizes veteran policymakers who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership abilities throughout their careers. The Legislative Action Award was founded to recognize junior members of Congress who have been in office for six years or less and are breathing new life into the legislative process.
This year—as acrimony increases in our political dialogue and tensions rise due to the ongoing pandemic, economic shock, and national focus on inequalities—reaching across the aisle is essential. We are pleased to recognize six leaders with the skills to tackle substantive issues in the face of political challenges and a proven ability to forge successful working relationships across the aisle:
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patriot Award Recipient: BPC is proud to recognize Sen. Alexander’s public service as a former governor, Secretary of Education, and senator for Tennessee, as well as his single-minded purpose as Chair of the Senate HELP Committee to maximize his power as a force for good, rather than be distracted by the surrounding cacophony of divisiveness. Consequently, he chose to seek common ground on multiple issues of vital national importance with the committee’s ranking member, Senator Patty Murray – our second 2020 Patriot Award winner. Together, they constitute a rare bipartisan team, and provide potent examples that should be replicated as a pathway forward for the Senate from these current, tumultuous times.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Patriot Award Recipient: Sen. Murray exemplifies the ideals of placing country before politics. As Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, together, Sens. Alexander and Murray have undertaken processes of exploration and negotiation that are laborious, time intensive, and potentially politically risky, but represent the principle that compromise in the name of progress is not a four-letter word. Together, their signature achievements include an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, enactment of the 21st Century Cures Act, and an updated Medicare payment policy. Sen. Murray’s efforts to reach out on a bipartisan basis are not limited to the Senate HELP Committee – or even the Senate itself. In 2016, Senator Murray teamed up with then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on legislation that established a commission on evidence-based policymaking.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Legislative Action Award Recipient: In both medicine and public service, Sen. Cassidy has demonstrated a profound concern for improving the lives of Americans, particularly when it comes to ensuring they have access to high-quality, affordable healthcare which he has translated into meaningful legislative accomplishments. Among the sophomore class of senators, Sen. Cassidy attracted the most cosponsors on his bills, wrote the most laws, and got bicameral support for the third-most bills in the 115th Congress. He also garnered bipartisan cosponsors for his own bills more often than 76% of his Senate colleagues. His COMBACT Act of 2018, which expanded Medicare coverage of certain services provided by opioid treatment programs, was a significant achievement in a Republican majority. He has also worked with Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to find solutions to the growing problem of surprise medical billing and with BPC’s Paid Family Leave team to identify ways to help working families who need time off to care for loved ones.
Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), Legislative Action Award Recipient: Sen. Smith’s commitment and willingness to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle has helped improve the lives of Americans, particularly when it comes to health care needs for rural Americans. Sen. Smith is a member of BPC’s Honorary Congressional Task Force on Rural Health and has led bipartisan bills to modernize maternal and obstetric medical care in rural communities and to strengthen rural health clinics. Beyond health, she’s also committed to drafting legislation to help rural communities thrive economically and founded the newly formed Bipartisan Senate Rural Working Group with Sens. Baldwin (D-WI), Fischer (R-NE), and Rounds (R-SD).
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Legislative Action Award Recipient: Rep. Murphy has brought a can-do spirit in service to our nation’s critical interests to the House of Representatives by focusing foremost on policy over politics. Compared to all representatives, she is in the 98th percentile in the number of bipartisan bills she cosponsored. As but one example of her effectiveness, she introduced legislation that was ultimately enacted to bolster economic opportunity, by increasing access to small-dollar loans and technical assistance for start-ups and smaller firms. She also introduced legislation that passed into law with Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI), to help the more than 200,000 servicemembers who leave the military each year successfully transition to civilian life and provide for their families. She and Bergman authored this bill following their participation in the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange Program after the pair heard concerns from local veterans they met with during the visit.
Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA), Legislative Action Award Recipient: Rep. Graves personifies the good people and work happening in Congress. He scores high on both the bipartisan and legislative effectiveness scales and received bipartisan cosponsors on his legislation more often than three-quarters of his Republican colleagues. Showcasing his ability to move legislation, Garret Graves was the primary sponsor of a number of bills that have been enacted into law, and he attracted Democratic cosponsors for each of them. Importantly, from his position as Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, BPC has been proud to work with Rep. Graves on a multitude of issues to mitigate the effects of climate change. His efforts to work seriously and thoughtfully on this issue has created a critically needed start to bipartisan congressional action.