07/30/2013 10:06 am ET Updated Sep 29, 2013

End of Life Is Just the Beginning

The cringe-inducing headlines of scandal and hyper partisan behavior greets us almost daily. Yet amid the conflict I'm encouraged about our work, designed to bring people together to solve problems, and the awareness and appreciation that surrounds it.

Last week brought another example of how it's possible to overcome the challenges of the political climate. The article that greeted me as I walked into the office Monday morning was, "The Death Panel Bill Lives." This headline in Politico, one of the "must read" publications in every Capitol Hill office, while unfortunate, belied a terrific article outlining the need for the legislation. It detailed the progress we're making with bipartisan support including a respected Republican doctor, Congressman Phil Roe of Tennessee. Dr. Roe is an opponent of Obamacare, but a fervent supporter of our work.

The story prompted wider discussion and was picked up by Ezra Klein's Wonk Blog in the Washington Post. Klein is one of the most respected and influential members in the Washington press corps. His article, "Can We Please Talk about Death like Adults?" further reinforced the merits of the legislation and the need to go further. The next day the LA Times joined in its opinion pages with, "Bring Back the Death Panel Bill." It called the bill a moderate approach that "simply requires Medicare to cover the consultation in the same way other, more expensive, medical procedures are covered."

The week ended with Time magazine running an in-depth feature, "The Healthcare Proposal that Spawned the Death Panel Lie is Back." It highlighted the bipartisan work we have done to promote the legislation.

In Washington, thoughtful media coverage, attention to important issues, and bipartisan support are in short supply. Successes like we saw last week in the media, however, demonstrate that despite the distractions, tensions, and endless hours of non-productive congressional work, it's possible to move ahead with a simple, commonsense agenda.

From creating livable communities and making America a better place, to mobilizing support for a non-partisan vision to rebuild and renew America, to progress with bike awareness and promotion, it's exciting to make a difference. We are even making progress in the promotion of international water and sanitation, saving these critical programs overseas by creating a bipartisan framework. Where other worthy programs, sadly, are facing draconian cuts, we've laid the groundwork for sustaining this life-saving effort and kept it off the appropriations chopping block. This week we will be introducing new, broader legislation with strong bipartisan support to increase and expand international water programs.

I fully understand people being discouraged by the avalanche of negativity, paralysis and controversy surrounding this Congress. Yet it's important to note that progress is possible and we're committed to making it even while we defend core values and push back against extremism. When the pendulum swings back, perhaps much sooner than people think, we've laid a foundation for much needed progress in a way that can avoid continued battling. Instead we can follow a path forward with relationships that will make it easier to travel.

I invite you to visit the links in these remarkable stories to get a picture of how things can come together; making progress while we build understanding and institutional capacity.