The Washington Post
Goodbye to a conservative who reliably crossed the aisle
The Feb. 21 obituary for former congressman Jim Broyhill, “GOP congressman from North Carolina briefly served in the Senate,” described him as a “reliable conservative.” That did not do justice to his impact on consumer and environmental legislation.
During his long tenure on the House commerce committee, Broyhill was a frequent negotiating partner with committee Democrats. While never compromising his conservative principles, he was able to find the intersection of liberal and conservative ideas to help craft landmark legislation. In addition to his role in the creation of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, discussed in the obituary, Broyhill also worked with Rep. John Moss (D- Calif.) to pass legislation to revitalize the Federal Trade Commission and with Rep. Bob Eckhardt (D-tex.) to pass the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 that regulates chemicals that pose “an unreasonable risk to health or the environment.”
Broyhill’s belief that members of goodwill on both sides of the aisle could work together to find ways to improve the lives of their constituents made him one of the most important Republicans who helped make the legislative process work for the public good in the 1970s. More members of both parties in Congress today should approach their jobs in the same way.
Alexandria The writer was Democratic counsel to the House commerce consumer protection subcommittee from 1975 to 1981.