A little bipartisanship begins to show in Washington

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Democrat and top Republican propose federal prison reform
  • Bipartisanship popping up in small ways on Capitol Hill
  • Last weeks’ Democrat/Republican lunch

The bipartisanship you’re not hearing about: Don’t get us wrong, Morning Line is not painting a picture of blossoming bipartisanship at the U.S. Capitol. But, slowly, quietly, a few green shoots are sprouting, nearly unnoticed in the shadow of dark (also true) headlines about partisan divide. Example one: 11 a.m. EST this morning when Texas Republican John Cornyn (the No. 2 Republican in the Senate) and Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse hold a news conference to highlight their joint bill to overhaul the federal prison system. The proposal would lower the federal prison population by allowing lower-risk inmates to enroll in programs and training and cut down their sentence time.

This is a bill the two senators proposed last year and one of several versions of prison reform on deck this year. But what stands out about this one is that now, with Republicans in charge, Cornyn and Whitehouse have a chance at passage. “The votes are there for something like this,” one GOP leadership aide who supports the bill surmised to Morning Line.

The Senate that lunches together: Example No. 2 of bipartisanship — one week ago Wednesday, senators held their first bipartisan luncheon in more than two years. The idea, pushed recently by Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich, was not an effort at group-hug symbolism. It was more basic, aimed at workplace interaction. Multiple sources tell the Morning Line that senators were required to sit next to members of the opposing party, alternating Republican, Democrat, Republican, Democrat. The agenda? Speeches from a few of the longest-serving members about how the Senate has operated best and then remarks from a few of the new members on their hopes for the chamber.

Bipartisanship 2015.0: There are, of course, still more limits than horizons for bipartisanship. Most of the nation’s top issues, from energy to immigration, live on a sharply-divided political battlefield. But watch for bipartisanship to lead on a host of other national topics: infrastructure funding, targeted tax breaks, critical issues on Native American reservations and human trafficking (the House passed a series of bipartisan bills on that in January).

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1967, the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It established the succession to the presidency in the event of the president’s death, resignation or incapacity. How many presidents died in office before the 25th Amendment was created? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to William C Rives ‏(@MrWmCR) for guessing Monday’s trivia: Why did the House of Representatives have to decide the 1824 election? The answer: No candidate received enough electoral votes to win.

2016:

  • Chris Christie spoke in Iowa Monday night about how being governor of New Jersey has prepared him for the presidency.
  • And the grand prize for bagging the first former Romney aide goes to Sen. Marco Rubio for hiring the much sought after Jim Merrill to direct his Northeast political activities.
  • After resigning in a huff from Priorities USA Action, David Brock is considering rejoining the board of the pro-Clinton super PAC.
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal laid out his education plan in D.C. Monday, during a speech that included a call to repeal Common Core.
  • Jeb Bush released the first chapter of his e-book Tuesday morning, including hundreds of thousands of archived emails.
  • Donors at last month’s Koch brothers’ summit pledged $249 million to their cause, putting them on track to hit that $889 million spending goal, or even surpass it if future confabs garner the same kind of fundraising.
  • 2016 promises to be an election of ideas, and that means potential presidential candidates are scrambling to hire the best policy advisers and layout their platforms, even before they’ve declared.

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