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To govern a divided country, Democrats and Republicans need to know each other.


The Bipartisan Policy Center is inviting members of Congress to journey together on the American Congressional Exchange, an original approach to building better relationships and bipartisanship in Congress, away from the crucible of Washington, D.C.


The question is, how can we get to a place where members of Congress are focused on working together based on a common set of facts, shared respect for one another, and an understanding of where the other person is coming from?


The Bipartisan Policy Center has introduced the American Congressional Exchange (ACE), to enable members of Congress to spend a weekend together learning about each other’s districts and leading discussions on shared interests. Members are paired by choosing districts that are significantly different geographically, culturally, and politically. ACE is chaired by the co-chairs of BPC’s Commission on Political Reform: former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Trent Lott, former Agriculture Secretary and Representative Dan Glickman, and former Senator Olympia Snowe.

The first exchange was held in January, when Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) visited with Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) in her home district in the Orlando area. Over the weekend, the pair spent time visiting Murphy’s constituents, including stopping by a farmer’s market, the Lake Nona VA Medical Center, the University of Central Florida, area businesses, and the Naval Support Activity Orlando. Back in Washington, Reps. Bergman and Murphy are now working together on specific ideas to improve opportunities for America’s returning service members.

“The personal interaction time is incredibly valuable,” said Murphy. “We discovered that while our districts are very different, we have a common connection back to the Vietnam War even though we are of different generations. I think when you establish those personal connections, it becomes easier to work together.”

“In any issue we are dealing with at the congressional level, that comparison and contrasting helps us take…435 unique and valid viewpoints and put them in a position where wise decisions can be made for the country,” said Bergman.

BPC plans to facilitate additional exchanges throughout 2018 to provide more regular opportunities for legislators to gain a greater depth of understanding of issues, and forge relationships through shared experience. Developing friendships and bipartisanship fosters collaboration on policy matters and legislation. With improved personal relationships, Congress will operate more effectively.

Learn more about the American Congressional Exchange.

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