OP-ED Let’s put partisanship aside, and get it done - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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OP-ED Let’s put partisanship aside, and get it done

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2018 8:11 am | Updated: 8:17 am, Fri Nov 2, 2018.

For nearly four years, I have worked to represent our South Florida community in a solutions-oriented, bipartisan way. I believe that strategy is the only way we will see progress on the most challenging issues facing our community and our country today. I am proud of the work we’ve done together to strengthen our economy, protect children’s identities,

prevent opioid abuse, improve education for all children — including non-English speakers, and begin to bridge the partisan gap on issues like climate change, immigration, gun safety, and equality.

In just the last two years, several pieces of legislation I’ve authored have seen significant movement through the legislative process, and three of them have become law. These policies will protect children and immigrants’ identities from synthetic identity fraud, protect our coastal communities from foreign oil spills, and improve opioid use prevention and support treatment of addiction.

I have also sponsored a bill that passed the House and will ensure families have access to cost-free, quality tax preparation help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. As the U.S. economy continues to outperform expectations after last year’s historic tax reform, South Florida families are able to keep an average of $2,000 more of their hard-earned paychecks each year. With economic growth expected to continue, it is even more critical for programs like VITA to be available to assist those most in need keep the money they are entitled to.

I have also advocated for policies that have passed the House and will reduce poverty through increased access to career and technical education and apprenticeships and reform our criminal justice system so it focuses on rehabilitation, recidivism reduction, and improving the juvenile justice system. I believe we must give everyone in our community the opportunity to find success, especially those who are most at-risk. We must also be willing to give our neighbors a second chance once they’ve paid their debt to

society in full, which is why I support reforms like Amendment 4 on the ballot this year.

Unfortunately, some of the biggest challenges we face as a country have been so partisan for decades it appears as if neither party has been willing to make any real progress. When I came to Washington and saw that firsthand, I dedicated myself to changing the toxic culture of partisanship and obstructionism. Of course, changing hearts and minds on any issue, especially ones where compromise has proved elusive, can be a challenge. Still, I knew the challenges facing this district need and deserve action.

Which is why, I’m proud to be ranked as the fourth most bipartisan member of the House by the independent Lugar Center and Georgetown University. It’s also why I’ve been dedicated to bridging the gap between both parties on complicated issues.

For example, two and a half years ago, Congressman Deutch and I founded the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus to give members on both sides of the aisle a forum to discuss issues affecting our climate and how we can work together to protect the environment. As of today, that group includes 90 bipartisan members, 45 Republicans and 45 Democrats, who are on the record saying climate change is real and that Congress has a role to address it.

In addition to climate change, I’ve also strived to bridge party divides on the issue of immigration. For far too long extremists in both parties have blocked any major action to find long-term solutions to modernize our outdated immigration system. In June, I forced Leadership of my party to have the first

comprehensive immigration debate in the House of Representatives in nearly a decade. While the bill has not passed yet, it laid the groundwork to ensure a majority of House Republicans are on the record supporting a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers. More work needs to be done, but we are finally heading in the right direction after a generation of unacceptable

inaction from both parties.

Notably, I’ve also been proud to support several bipartisan bills that would reduce gun violence in our communities, prevent discrimination and protect our environment.

I know there is incredible frustration with the state of our politics today. I feel it too. While much work remains, I know that with people who are willing to work together, who are willing to cross the aisle, and who are willing to put partisanship aside, we can get it done. That’s what I’ve done for our community over the past four years, and it’s what I commit to keep doing as long as I am entrusted with the privilege to serve you.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) represents FL-26.

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