New Members of Congress who Bonded at HKS Orientation Assume Office

January 3, 2017
By Doug Gavel

Although president-elect Trump will not be sworn into office until January 20th, the 115th Congress is already getting to work in Washington and there are hopes that the new Congress may be able to avoid the partisan gridlock that has plagued its predecessors in recent years.  A group of 13 Republicans and 19 Democrats who attended Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP) Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress in December have signified their intention to work together by issuing a statement proclaiming their commitment to working across party lines.  

“While we fully understand the tremendous challenges ahead, we chose not to focus on our differences, but instead on the unwavering commitment that we all share, to serve our constituents and our Nation,” the statement read.

In a separate statement, IOP interim director Bill Delahunt praised the new members, saying, “We at the IOP hope to support this extraordinary freshman class’s commitment by arranging to work with these members next year and to bring them together for follow-up programs. Their unprecedented statement deserves encouragement from all Americans.”

CNN has reported on the new spirit in Washington, quoting House class co-presidents Rep. Val Demings (D/FL) and Rep. Jack Bergman (R/MI), both of whom attended the New Members program and co-signed the statement pledging to work together on behalf of the American people. 

"Our class is made up of men and women who want to get something done for the American people. They come from diverse backgrounds," Demings told CNN. "Getting to know them, while there is uncertainty about the future, I am excited and very optimistic ... I believe that, as a member of Congress, we all have an obligation to unify our country and to help our country heal, because every day, every minute, every second that passes, there are people out there who are hurting."

Tags: Institute of Politics Institute of Politics

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Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP) hosted its Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress in December. The agenda is designed to ensure thoughtful bipartisan discussions on a variety of public policy issues.  Experts and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds cover topics including the federal budget process, key issues in domestic and foreign policy, and the expanding role of innovation and technology in government.


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