POLITICS
10/29/2014 10:33 am ET Updated Oct 29, 2014

Why These Two Senators Believe Bipartisan Lunches Are The Key To Congressional Compromise

As our political system grows increasingly polarized, two senators from opposing political parties believe one way to bring compromise to Congress is to break bread together. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico have teamed up to lobby for bipartisan congressional lunches, and the duo joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to explain why such a practice could have a profound effect on our country's legislature.

"When we go to work in Washington during the week, Republicans will have lunch three times a week with each other, only Republicans. Democrats do it twice a week, only with Democrats," Flake explained. But there's no routine meeting of both the Democrats and Republicans, together.

"I think it's debilitating," Flake said. "It used to be that members of Congress in the House and the Senate, when they were elected to Washington, they moved their family back to Washington. ... They associated much more with each other. ... They knew each other, they trusted each other more. That's really gone. We have a commuter Congress now."

The lack of bipartisan communication on a casual level affects the sense of mutual trust in Congress, Heinrich explained to Modarressy-Tehrani, which makes the task of legislating far more difficult than it needs to be.

"I think it [trust] is one of the biggest issues facing the Senate in particular," he said. I don't think it's actually the case that people disagree more now than they did 20 or 50 or 60 years ago. I think where we've really fallen down is finding the ability to come to some sort of functional compromise where you don't compromise your values, and move legislature forward. That art, which is really what being a U.S. congressman or a U.S. senator ought to be about, has become a bit of a lost art and we want to rebuild that."

To hear more about from the two senators, watch the full HuffPost Live segment here.

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