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story.lead_photo.caption Steve Womack

ROGERS -- The inability of members of the two political parties to work together is the greatest threat facing the country, 3rd District Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, said Wednesday.

Womack, chairman of the House Budget Committee, spoke to a crowd of about 700 at the conference of the Association of Arkansas Counties in Rogers.

"Over time the two parties have become, in many respects, hopelessly polarized," he said.

Redrawing of House district boundary lines every 10 years to ensure party preponderance in each district means three-quarters of that chambers members have nothing to fear from a general election, he said. Republicans run farther to the right and Democrats to the left to ensure they get the nomination, he said.

Congress has never passed a budget during his tenure, Womack said, financing the government by a series of patchwork arrangements passed in a succession of crises. Womack was elected to Congress in 2010.

"If this country cannot even accomplish the most fundamental if its duties, how can it possibly solve the big problems?" he said. Solving budget gridlock is the most vital step in restoring functionality to government, he said.

Womack is also co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. Expected reforms to come out of the committee will probably include a two-year budget cycle instead of the current year-long cycle, Womack said.

"It works for Arkansas," he said. "It works for a lot of other states." "There is probably going to be some language that punishes Congress if it can't get its work done," he said. "We have got to figure out a way to put Congress' feet to the fire."

He didn't offer specific proposals on what those penalties might be.

Josh Mahony, Womack's Democratic opponent in the general election, said the congressman is citing a problem he helped to create.

"It's ironic that Steve Womack, one of Congress's most hyper-partisan members, is bemoaning partisanship at the same time his own budget proposal calls for massive cuts to Medicare and other important health care programs," Mahony said in a statement.

Womack has been in Congress for more than seven years, said Michael Kalagias, Womack's Libertarian general election opponent.

"He's never voted for a balanced budget. He voted for every one of those continuing resolutions and every increase in the debt limit," Kalagias said. "He's right, we do have two parties that don't agree with each other. The solution is to vote for someone who is not a part of these two parties. He's just as much a part of the problem he describes as anyone."

NW News on 08/09/2018

Print Headline: Womack bemoans partisanship

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