When bipartisanship rules, the people win

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There was a time when constructive bipartisanship in the United States Congress was routine business practice. Not so today. Hyperpartisanship among lawmakers has produced a bitterness and intransigence that make even the most mundane of matters subject to political warfare.

Amid that backdrop, it is worthy of note that the U.S. House of Representatives last week passed an important and public spirited piece of legislation that will greatly improve and modernize the nation’s organ procurement and transplant system.

Not only was the bill passed in bipartisan fashion, the final vote was unanimous.

Indiana and Illinois residents should also be pleased that two of their representatives played a major role in introducing and advancing this key legislation. U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, a Democrat who serves Illinois’ District 2 that includes Danville and the northern portion of Vermilion County, partnered with Rep. Larry Bucshon, a Republican who serves west-central and southwestern Indiana’s 8th District that includes Vigo and surrounding counties, and Daviess County.

Kelly and Bucshon are far apart philosophically and ideologically on many major issues of the day. But it is refreshing to know that elected legislators from opposing political parties can set aside differences and join in an act of bipartisanship for the greater good. This proposal is exactly the kind of measure that needed this form of cooperation and collaboration.

Kelly and Bucshon applauded their colleagues for joining them in coming together in such fashion to pass this badly needed bill.

“Approximately 6,000 Americans die each year while waiting for organ transplants,” Kelly said in a press statement. “The Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act will reform the organ procurement process and save hundreds, even thousands of lives.”

Bucshon, who is a physician and surgeon, emphasized the importance of building a more effective system.

“Seventeen Americans are dying every day waiting for an organ transplant. At the same time, thousands of organs are going to waste due to inefficient and ineffective procurement processes,” Bucshon said in the same statement. “As a physician in Congress, my focus is on ensuring that HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) has the authority that it needs to act on behalf of patients and ensure that the best innovators are able to compete, and play their part in saving lives.”

Advocates for reform and improvement of the U.S. organ transplant system are praising this important legislative progress. They now turn their attention to a companion bill currently in the U.S. Senate. They have reason to be optimistic. Bipartisanship appears to be winning the day, with both Democrats and Republicans, including Indiana’s two U.S. senators, signing on as co-sponsors.

This legislation deserves to become law with passage in the Senate and the president’s signature. And the bipartisanship on display is an example of what can be accomplished when elected lawmakers overcome their divisions and act in the best interests of the American people.