“We have differences of opinion on the role of government,” said Rubio, “but the discussions were respectful.”
On another level, progress is being made. Thursday’s vote to cut off debate and proceed to gun safety legislation – the first time in more than a decade the Senate will have a full debate on the subject – got strong bipartisan support.
Fifty Democrats were joined by two independents and 16 Republicans to approve allowing the bill to be considered.
“It’s a breakthrough,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Republicans long known as gun rights advocates voted with Cardin. “Why wouldn’t we want to debate these issues?” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
On guns and immigration, lawmakers from both parties say they were simply following their constituents. Obama, whose campaign made overhauling immigration laws a priority, got 71 percent of the Latino vote last year, a bitter disappointment to Republicans, who quickly vowed to court the community more fervently.
The partisan schism is most pronounced on the day’s biggest issue, the federal budget.
On taxes alone, the divide is deep. Obama wants nearly $1 trillion in new revenue over the next 10 years. Republicans want none. Republicans want deep domestic spending cuts; Obama has a different plan that not only cuts less, but adds new spending for infrastructure and other programs.
Grumet believes that this current spate of bipartisanship is likely to “roll along on square tires” and “lurch forward with sporadic demonstrations of political courage.”
“Don’t be fooled by the cherry blossoms,” he said. “But enjoy them.”