Necessity Gives Rise to Bipartisanship — for Now

When Congress convened in 2023, an empowered far-right Republican faction in the House threatened to upend Washington and President Biden’s agenda.

But the intransigence of that bloc instead forced Republicans and Democrats into an ad hoc coalition government that is now on the verge of delivering long-delayed foreign military aid and a victory to the Democratic president.

The House approval on Saturday of money for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan over angry objections from the extreme right was the latest and perhaps most striking example of a bipartisan approach forged out of necessity. The coalition first sprang up last year to spare the government a catastrophic debt default, and has reassembled at key moments since then to keep federal agencies funded.

Unable to deliver legislation on their own because of a razor-thin majority and the refusal of those on the right to give ground, House Republicans had no choice but to break with their fringe members and join with Democrats if they wanted to accomplish much of anything, including bolstering Ukraine in its war against Russia.

“Look at what MAGA extremism has got you: nothing,” Representative James P. McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, told Republicans on the House floor as lawmakers took their first steps toward approving the aid package. “Nothing. Not a damn thing. In fact, it has empowered Democrats. At every critical juncture in this Congress, it has been Democrats who have been the ones to stand up for our country and do the right thing for the American people.”

The moments of bipartisan coming-together are hardly a template for a new paradigm of governing in polarized times. The grudging G.O.P. collaboration with Democrats has only come about on truly existential, must-pass legislation — and typically only at the last minute after Republicans have exhausted all other options, making the coalition unlikely to hold on less critical bills and the social policy issues that sharply divide the two parties.

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