June 16, 2023

National Institute for Civil Discourse releases this year's top 10 bipartisan issues lists

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona National Institute for Civil Discourse today released its annual Top 10 Bipartisan Issues lists, which identify the top issues that members of Congress and members of general public see as having the most potential for bipartisan action.

The two lists – the Congressional Top 10 and the CommonSense American Top 10 – include a variety of issues like mental health, immigration reform, the opioid crisis and rural health care access.

"These survey results provide useful insights into what a divided Congress can realistically achieve this year now that the debt ceiling has been resolved," said institute co-chair Tom Daschle.

To create the Congressional Top 10, the National Institute for Civil Discourse – a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan organization founded by UArizona to promote constructive and civil political debate – met with senior White House staff and 40 congressional offices to identify and rank the most meaningful issues for successful bipartisan action in 2023. The survey included 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats.

The CommonSense American Top 10 was based on feedback from members of the National Institute for Civil Discourse's CommonSense American program, which is made up of more than 56,000 Republican, Democrat and Independent voters who work to identify issues and solutions with the greatest promise of attracting broad, cross-partisan support. More than 2,300 members of the program reviewed descriptions of the 10 issues identified in the congressional poll and ranked them from most to least promising.

Congressional Top 10

  1. Farm bill reauthorization
  2. Opioid crisis
  3. Career and technical education
  4. Permitting reform
  5. Small business support
  6. Mental health
  7. Technology privacy
  8. Rural health care access
  9. Health care transparency and competition
  10. Immigration reform

CommonSense American Top 10

  1. Career and technical education
  2. Mental health
  3. Immigration reform
  4. Health care transparency and competition
  5. Farm bill reauthorization
  6. Opioid crisis
  7. Permitting reform
  8. Technology privacy
  9. Rural health care access
  10. Small business support

Career and technical education emerged as the No. 1 issue for everyday Americans and the No. 3 issue for members of Congress, marking a widespread interest in improving technical education opportunities, said Keith Allred, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

"Career and technical education is the sleeper issue of the year," Allred said. "The need for more career-connected learning achieved greater bipartisan consensus among both everyday Americans and members of Congress than any other issue."

"With worker shortages across the country, there is a growing consensus that college is not the only worthy investment in preparing Americans for meaningful and financially rewarding careers," Daschle said.

National Institute for Civil Discourse staff will now prepare a brief on congressional bills aimed at advancing career and technical education that CommonSense American members will review before indicating whether they support each. In the past three years, the program helped inform Congress in passing legislation ending surprise medical billing, investing in physical infrastructure and fortifying peaceful transitions of power through the Electoral Count Reform Act.

"With a three-for-three track record of helping pass common-sense legislation, we look forward to engaging Congress again this year with our results showing which bills are attracting bipartisan grassroots support," National Institute for Civil Discourse co-chair Christine Todd Whitman said.

'Country ahead of party'

Several members of Congress have applauded the work of the National Institute of Civil Discourse to identify opportunities for bipartisan action.

"NICD has been a leader in the fight to put country ahead of party. I appreciate their help identifying leading opportunities for meaningful bipartisan action and look forward to working with them again this year. Each of the issues on NICD's Top 10 lists deserves Congress' attention." 
--Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

"The commitment to bipartisanship at NICD's CommonSense American program helped forge solutions on surprise medical billing in 2020, infrastructure in 2021 and the Electoral Count Reform Act in 2022. I look forward to continuing to work with CommonSense American to identify solutions to the most pressing issues for the American people."
--Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

"CommonSense American's work to identify and advocate for important bipartisan solutions has already made a difference on infrastructure and the Electoral Count Reform Act. I deeply appreciate their work to help Congress pass meaningful solutions again this year.
--Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

" The information CommonSense American provided was integral to the debate on the Electoral Count Act and the Presidential Transition Act. I look forward to working with them again this year to identify and advance solutions for the American people. As someone who is working hard to advance a number of the issues they've identified, I appreciate their ongoing efforts."
--Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

"It is a truism that good policy is persuasive policy and CommonSense American plays an important role in advancing this concept. They continue to advocate and support solutions, like ending surprise medical billing, that try to make our country better."
--Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

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Media contact:
Keith Allred
National Institute for Civil Discourse

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2021 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $824 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 71 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually.