(NewsNation) — Congress, like the country at large, has become increasingly polarized. But that doesn’t mean that both major parties can never work together to get anything done. Although it remains to be seen how effective these policies will be, their passage is evidence that it’s still possible for a deeply divided country to work together.
Here are six examples of bipartisan breakthroughs in Congress this year that you may have missed:
Overhauling gun policy
Following the tragic mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, both parties worked together to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The law, which passed the Senate by a vote of 65-33 and the House by a vote of 234-193, expanded background checks for buyers under age 21, made it harder for perpetrators of domestic violence to obtain firearms and invested more in mental health care.
Because gun policy is often contentious, the bipartisan passage of the law was noteworthy. It was the most sweeping federal gun legislation passed in decades.
Renewing the country’s infrastructure
A bipartisan majority of both houses of Congress — including 69 Senators in the Senate — took action to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act this year.
The law, which carries a price tag of $1 trillion, includes billions of dollars in investments in roads, bridges and rail systems. It also puts new funds into utilities and broadband.
“We’re finally getting to it. We’re getting it done,” President Joe Biden remarked upon signing the legislation, which had long been sought by many members of both parties.
Seeking justice for civil rights cold case victims
In 2018, Republican Senator Ted Cruz worked with Democratic Senators Kamala Harris, Claire McCaskill and Doug Jones to pass the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018. Then-President Donald Trump signed the bill into law in early 2019, establishing a board whose job it is to review and declassify civil rights cold case records. The release of these records can help private investigators assist the government in solving these cases.
This year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers worked to convince Congress to vote to extend the tenure of the board.
Boosting the American semiconductor industry
The COVID-19 pandemic helped highlight America’s reliance on global supply chains for key goods. In an attempt to boost the domestic manufacturing of semiconductors — which are critical ingredients in all sorts of electronics we use — Congress worked to pass the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act of 2022.
The new law, which had bipartisan support in both chambers, is intended to spur substantial investments in the American semiconductor industry and reduce reliance on overseas-made semiconductors.
Battling the rural opioid epidemic
With deadly opioids continuing to batter American communities, Republican and Democratic lawmakers from states with large rural populations teamed up to pass the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act.
The new law will fund community-based response programs designed to reduce opioid deaths.
Guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage was once one of America’s most divisive cultural issues. Yet earlier this year, a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress voted to enshrine same-sex marriage rights into federal law.
Although same-sex marriage has been a nationwide right since a 2015 Supreme Court decision, the Respect for Marriage Act marks the first time that Congress has voted to require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage.