“We’re meeting on a regular basis, Democrats and Republicans just talking about areas where we think we can work together in a bipartisan way,” said Rep. Ami Bera, a California Democrat who defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Lungren in November.
“The idea is we’ve got to move past being only Democrat or Republican,” Bera said in an interview. “It’s very evident in my freshman class. All of us got elected knowing there was an expectation that we would work together.”
Bera and his fellow Problem Solvers scored a major victory last week when Congress passed and Obama signed the No Budget No Pay Act. It raises the federal debt ceiling through May 18 while blocking lawmakers’ salaries if they fail to pass a budget for fiscal 2014, which starts Oct. 1.
Bera made the bill a central plank of his campaign against Lungren last year. While Bera preferred a tougher measure than the one that eventually passed – it holds lawmakers’ pay in escrow instead of eliminating it – the new Sacramento-area lawmaker voted for it in the spirit of compromise that he thinks is so important.
“Passing a budget is our core job,” Bera said. “It lets the public know what our priorities are and how we’re going to spend our resources.”