Rep. Tom Suozzi, left, called for cross-party cooperation after he...

Rep. Tom Suozzi, left, called for cross-party cooperation after he was sworn in by Speaker Mike Johnson Wednesday. Credit: AP/Francis Chung/Politico

Brief glimmers of light flashed this week from the Capitol in Washington.

On Wednesday, Rep. Tom Suozzi appropriately called for cross-party cooperation upon his swearing-in to succeed the expelled fabulist George Santos. Meanwhile, another in a series of limited stopgap deals came together to avert a partial government shutdown with another temporary patch.

Hitting some resonant notes, Suozzi — just after Republican Speaker Mike Johnson swore him in — said respectfully: “The people are sick and tired of the finger-pointing and petty partisan politics. They want us to work together. I know there are so many good people in this chamber . . . on both sides of the aisle.” Suozzi said, “Wake up!” and “Enough with the theater and drama. People are worried about the cost of living. They are worried about the chaos at the border. They are worried about Israel and Ukraine. They look to Congress, and what do they see? The extremists are getting all of the attention.”

Much as we’d like to believe that Suozzi calling for reason, as he promised in his campaign, will inspire a new era of sober problem-solving in Congress, all signs point to more dysfunction and stubborn procedural sclerosis ahead, especially from inside the GOP majority.

The deal involves six of 12 appropriations bills with a plan to vote on those bills before March 8. The remaining six bills will be extended through March 22 so lawmakers can finish them. And the spending amounts that Johnson agreed to were the same ones negotiated last year. The bottom line for now: more can-kicking and no resolution of hot issues. Looking ahead, Johnson’s ability to tamp down extremist chaos heads for some heavy stress tests.

Some of his more strident members have been agitating over the speaker’s acquired habit of bypassing his chamber’s rules committee, sidestepping the committee’s extreme Freedom Caucus members, and thus depending on Democrats’ votes to get things passed. Rules to which Johnson’s ousted predecessor Kevin McCarthy acceded let any defiant maverick move to end any member’s speakership at any time. It’s always a tightrope, and it works against reaching reasonable consensus.

But remember: Obstruction for its own sake can be suicidal for the party responsible. That risk falls not on GOP House members safely ensconced in deep-red seats, but on proclaimed moderates in purple districts like Nassau County’s which have changed partisan hands in recent cycles. Voters can see who is responsible for chaos in Washington. The current masters of the House prefer so far to scapegoat the Homeland Security secretary through impeachment rather than accept a compromise bill that could help ease problems at the border. The time is now for dealing with immigration and funding for Ukraine.

Confronting and repairing American problems head-on is the only sensible option for either party’s lawmakers. Maybe, just maybe, this moment can offer a tipping point toward seriousness.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

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