Lawmakers discuss how to work together in midst of impeachment fight

January 30, 2020
In The News

House members from both parties Thursday discussed the importance of working together to address common threats and challenges in the midst of President Trump's impeachment trial. 

At an event sponsored by Philip Morris International, Burson Cohn Wolfe, The Governor’s Woods Foundation and No Labels, Michigan Reps. Fred Upton (R) and Debbie Dingell (D) talked to The Hill Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons about the importance of finding common ground in a hyper-partisan environment.

"Fred's been my best friend here since I've come," said Dingell, noting Upton's relationship with her late husband, former Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of the House.

"We have a lot of the same values, we care about a lot of stuff, we watch out for each other, we really are like a brother and sister," she added.

"I got my stripes from Debbie's husband John. He was the dean of the House, he was just about the most powerful committee chair ever, you know, and he got things done," said Upton.

"We have divided government. Today, if you want to get things done, you gotta work together," he added.

Dingell and Upton, two Midwestern moderates with a personal relationship predating their service together in the House, underlined the need to parlay those connections into the political realm.

But for freshman Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), the walk across the aisle started at the airport.

"I have a great working relationship with Republicans, particularly from my state. We're friends, I like 'em. I like 'em on a personal level. We spend a lot of time at airports together hanging out with flights that are often delayed from Washington back to Phoenix," Stanton told The Hill Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack.

"We get to know each other on a personal level, and that's important. Personal relationships are important in politics," added Stanton.

Stanton cited a drought contingency plan and the North American trade agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), as examples of bipartisanship.

"We're going to fight on certain issues, as you'd expect — this is a partisan environment. But we're going to come together as needed to support Arizona issues in a bipartisan way," said Stanton.

Still, Trump's impeachment trial will loom over the State of the Union address, scheduled for next Tuesday.

Trump's speech to Congress will directly confront a president with his accusers from the House, amid a fraught election year that could reshape party structures for the foreseeable future.

Stanton said he put politics aside in his vote for impeachment, in favor of "doing the right thing."

"People ask me all the time, the politics of impeachment, does it help Democrats, does it hurt Democrats? I think my honest answer is: I don't know. I don't know," said Stanton.

And Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), a freshman lawmaker who will deliver the Spanish-language response to Trump from El Paso, said this year's address will lack the celebratory tone of last year's, when Democrats were fresh off big gains in the 2018 elections.

"We're a year in, we've accomplished a lot together, we have a lot left to accomplish. It's election season, so it's a little bit different," said Escobar.

"Personally, last year I felt real frustration with the president's message. You know, he's dishonest. It's frustrating to sit and listen to someone attempt to gaslight an entire country," added Escobar.