Are there any policies, issues congressional Republicans and Democrats could work together on?

Next year, Washington will be governed by a divided Congress, as Republicans have retaken the House of Representatives, and Democrats retained control of the Senate after the Nov. 8 midterm elections

The “red wave” anticipated by some in the GOP failed to materialize as Democrats were able to capture important wins in swing state races that determined the fate of the Senate despite President Biden’s low approval ratings. Regardless, the majorities in both chambers will be slim for each party, making it difficult for bipartisan issues and legislation to see the light of day in the 118th Congress.

In the current political climate, Republican and Democratic leaders have shown little interest in working across the aisle and often prioritize hyper-partisan issues. The political center has fewer advocates than in prior years, and the deadlock in Washington is reflected in the low approval of Congress. 

In September, the 117th Congress had a disapproval rating of 75% from Americans over the age of 18, according to a Gallup poll. Congress has the lowest approval ratings compared to any other branch of government, including the Judicial Branch after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

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Despite the hyper-partisanship that is likely to follow in the new Congress, there are some issues in which Republicans and Democrats have common ground and are widely supported by the majority of American voters. 

Recently, there was a bipartisan push to codify same-sex marriage before the likely Republican House majority takes over next year. On Wednesday, The Senate voted 62 to 37 to cement same-sex marriage protections into law, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats across the aisle for the bill.  

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer encouraged bipartisanship on the issue, telling colleagues on the Senate floor before the vote that “if both parties can come together, today could be truly one of the highlights of the year for this body.” The cooperation seen on Wednesday between both parties could potentially transfer over into the next Congress, as most of the Republican senators who helped Democrats break the 60-vote threshold will remain in office next year. 

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Moreover, there are other issues brought up in the last Congress that still has widespread support of Americans and agreement from both parties. For instance, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of Congress members owning stock while serving in office came to attention following a controversy involving former Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

Calls to ban members from trading stock came from both the left and right, as polls showed the issue was overwhelmingly popular with most voters. Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez both co-sponsored the Ban Conflict Trading Act last year, introduced by Illinois Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. The bill would prohibit members of Congress, as well as senior office staff, from trading stocks. 

The issue was even endorsed by former President Trump on Tuesday night during his presidential announcement at Mar-a-Lago. With support from progressive Democrats and various members of the Republican Party, politicians could potentially pass a bill addressing this issue in the next Congress. 

Providing aid to Ukraine is another issue that has largely had bipartisan support in the House and Senate from both parties. In May, following Russia’s invasion, the House approved an aid package to Ukraine of $40 billion by a vote of 368-57. The Biden administration requested in November that Congress provides another aid package to the war-torn country of $37.7 billion.

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Support for Ukraine is popular among voters, and continued aid packages will likely be approved by Congress. However, shortly before the midterm elections, the Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said a GOP majority would try to decrease the amount of support going to Ukraine. Regardless, the issue still remains a probably bipartisan issue with support from both parties and is popular with Americans. 

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