Lee Hamilton:

Given everything that’s been taking place on Capitol Hill, I’d guess you missed the announcement a few months back that the House Civility Caucus has been revived. It would be hard to call this earth-shattering news — but in our current political climate, it’s a notable measure of hope.


The caucus first came into being in 2018, when two members of Congress from Columbus, Ohio — Democrat Joyce Beatty and Republican Steve Stivers — launched the group with the idea that disagreement is inevitable in politics, but being disagreeable about it doesn’t have to be. It helped that the two had been friends for decades, ever since Beatty, then a state representative, confronted Stivers, a banker, about his bank’s practice of charging check-cashing fees for child-support checks. He’d agreed that, as he later told a reporter, “we needed to take responsibility and fix what we had done.” In Congress, the caucus attracted a handful of Democrat-Republican pairs from other states, but folded after Stivers left Congress.


This spring, however, Beatty and Stivers’ Republican successor, Mike Carey — the two are also friends—decided it was time to resuscitate the effort. In a talk not long afterward, Beatty noted that they have significant political differences. “But we have a secret weapon,” she said. “We actually like each other, and that makes a huge difference. We have a friendship beyond the House floor. We’ve also figured out how to have a friendship on the House floor—which, unfortunately in today’s times, might seem kind of rare.” The Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus, to give it its formal name, has several dozen members — split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, since anyone who wants to be part of it has to find a partner from the other party to join with them.