Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/13/2012 07:42:42 PM PST

When Rep. Jerry Lewis retires, he’ll apparently have at least one admirer on the other side of the aisle.

Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, said that they’ve had disagreements over the Dream Act and on immigration issues, but he and Lewis found common ground on many issues that pertain to the area.

Lewis, R-Redlands, said Thursday he doesn’t plan to run for re-election after three decades in Congress.

“We’ve had a long record of working together on a bipartisan basis to get things done for the Inland Empire,” Baca said. “This includes work done to support important transportation projects, education, public safety and water cleanup projects.”

Baca said he believes some of the motivation for Lewis’ decision to step down at the end of his term is the increasing partisan divide in Washington, D.C.

“I believe Jerry has seen that there’s been a shift in doing what is best for the American people and that’s made it difficult,” Baca said.

“Jerry, I believe, saw this handwriting on the wall. This is an individual who always worked on both sides of the aisle and collaborated in harmony to do what’s best for the American people. We’ve gotten away from that concept in the past year.”

Lewis admits the increasing partisanship in Congress does impede the ability to get things done.

“The major challenge for Congress right now is that an awful lot more members need to recognize that maybe 90 percent of the issues we deal with have nothing to do with partisanship,” Lewis said.

It’s become extremely difficult, he said, to get something to the president’s desk for his signature.

“We can’t pass bills unless we begin to set partisanship aside and talk to each other about what it’s going to take to accomplish this,” Lewis said. “We have to do that – it’s the only way that Congress’ reputation is going to improve.”

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