(WASHINGTON) — When it comes to breaking through political stalemates on Capitol Hill, Debbie Wasserman Schultz says that women are making the difference.
“Women are so often consensus builders,” Wasserman Schultz told ABC News and Yahoo! News. “We’re much more focused on getting to yes, rather than obliterating our opponents on the other side.”
In the aftermath of the 16-day government shutdown, the Florida congresswoman and chair of the Democratic National Committee warned that more political crises are unavoidable unless elected officials take “personal responsibility” in building trust across the partisan divide.
“If members don’t personally make that effort at reaching across the aisle, then I think it’s almost unavoidable,” she said. “I don’t think the intensity of the Tea Party has lessened any from this experience.”
As part of her own personal effort to get to know Republicans better, the congresswoman said that she and Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., now get together regularly for dinner.
“We started a dinner when he was first elected after sitting together at the State of the Union after Gabby Giffords was shot, and we did that because we thought we needed to get to know each other better and to start building some trust,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Being a mother, she said, has motivated her to speak out for increasing bipartisan cooperation and to write her new book, For the Next Generation: A Wake-Up Call to Solving Our Nation’s Problems.
“All the decisions I make in life are done through the lens of being a mom, and it was really an alarm bell,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I wanted to make sure that the major issues we’re facing with healthcare and education and crumbling infrastructure and civil rights and civil liberties, … that if we don’t make tough decisions now, if we don’t work together to solve big problems, then it’s really going to dramatically hurt our kids.”
Though Wasserman Schultz acknowledges that she holds a partisan line as the chair of the DNC, she said that working across the aisle is the only way she’s ever been effective in Washington.
”Of the 21 years I’ve been in political office, I’ve been in the minority for 13,” she said. “In order to be effective, I’ve always had to reach across the aisle. There are Republican members who want to work together.”
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