As he continues to try to weave together a bipartisan infrastructure deal that will have the support of the Biden White House as well as the Democrats who want a bigger package and the Republicans who don't want to bargain with them, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says he remains confident there is a desire in Washington for political compromise. We have to hope he is right.
As he made the rounds of Sunday news shows and editorial boards in recent days, Portman also has noted that there is a most definite desire among citizens for lawmakers to come up with a fix for their crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure. And about that the Republican senator is surely right.
Constituents in red states and blue states alike are tired of worrying about lead water pipes, tired of bridges and dams that are dangerously deteriorating.
When President Joe Biden's initial $2 trillion proposal languished, Portman and a bipartisan team of senators crafted the outline of a more narrowly focused compromise plan and took it to the White House. And for the last month, Portman and others have been working to flesh out that outline into a bipartisan bill that will work.
Some Democrats are threatening to force the issue with a premature vote. Some Republicans still refuse to bargain at all with the White House. And Portman is asking them all to not give up and to keep negotiating. Democrats and Republicans alike should listen to him.
Working out a compromise would deliver plenty — politically, materially and economically. It would strike a blow against the paralysis of polarization that has seized Congress for too many years. It would be a victory for the throwback process of cross-aisle problem-solving.
That has always been Portman's strong suit, doing the hard work of identifying policy solutions and then building bipartisan support to get bills passed. He is a natural choice to be the lead Republican negotiator on this deal.
Particularly now that he is leaving his seat at the end of his term later this year, it is fitting and not at all surprising that Portman is digging in, unwilling to give up on making a deal happen, even as it means trying to pull together multiple factions from both parties and multiple branches of government.
There is still a deal to be had on infrastructure — one that can suit lawmakers from both parties, but more importantly, one that that can help to rebuild the nation.©2021 PG Publishing Co. Visit at post-gazette.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.