Meet the Common Sense Coalition — the bipartisan group of senators who ended the government shutdown

The Common Sense Coalition celebrates after the Senate voted to reopen the government on Monday.

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The Common Sense Coalition celebrates after the Senate voted to reopen the government on Monday.
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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

When the federal government reopened on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s deal to put off immigration negotiations in favor of a short-term spending plan took center stage – but a bipartisan group of centrist senators were celebrating their own victory.

The moderate group, who call themselves the Common Sense Coalition, came together for a series of meetings behind the scenes. Led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins, they were able to successfully create the united front needed to push the leaders of the two parties together to finalize a deal.

Whether this centrist coalition will last is unclear. But for the time being, these compromise-minded lawmakers are helping pave the way for bipartisan dealmaking in an age of intractable political tribalism.

Meet the 23 senators in the Common Sense Coalition:


Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, led the coalition meetings in her office, and used a tribal Masai talking stick to maintain order and facilitate cordial discussion. Fellow senators described her office as “our little Switzerland.”

Sources: Business Insider, New York Times, Collins’ office


Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, also praised Collins’ leadership. He described her office as “the one place we can all go and feel good.”

Source: New York Times


Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, co-founded the coalition alongside Collins.

Source: New York Times


Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, is an important member of the coalition — he’s the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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Cory Gardner
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

Source: New York Times


Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, quickly joined the moderate wing of his party after his surprise win over judge Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election in December 2017.

Source: New York Times


Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, has emerged as an outspoken critic of the Republican establishment since President Donald Trump’s election.

Source: New York Times


Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, had previously emerged as the second senator to pledge not to vote for the spending bill that eventually led to the government shutdown.

Sources: New York Times, Business Insider


Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, said everyone in the bipartisan meetings agreed that protecting DREAMers is a priority.

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Tim Kaine in his office at the US Capitol.
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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sources: New York Times, Real Clear Politics


Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, was enthusiastic about the coalition’s achievements — but after the shutdown ended, she recognized, “now the real work begins.”

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Lisa Murkowski.
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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Source: New York Times


Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, is no fan of short-term spending bills, but agreed to the compromise solution anyway.

Source: New York Times


Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, is popular in her home state, and she is among likely Democratic contenders in 2020.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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Thomson Reuters

Source: New York Times


Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, was the senator who originally gifted the talking stick to Collins.

source
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sources: New York Times, Vox


Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, once served as New Hampshire’s governor. Today, she swings between the progressive and moderate wings of her party.

Sources: New York Times, The Algemeiner


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, another Democrat from New Hampshire, joined her fellow senator in sticking up for compromise-minded centrism during the shutdown.

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Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) speaks at EMILY’s List 30th Anniversary National Conference in Washington March 3, 2015.
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Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Source: New York Times


Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from Indiana, is no stranger to crossing party lines.

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Sen. Joe Donnelly
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sources: New York Times, South Bend Tribune


Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, is also from a predominantly red state, much like Donnelly.

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Claire McCaskill
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Source: New York Times


Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, has been a senate moderate for years.

Source: New York Times


Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, is not up for reelection until 2020.

Source: New York Times


Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, was interested in protecting the various federal employees who reside in his state.

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Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) speaks with reporters about the Senate healthcare bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 27, 2017.
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REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Source: New York Times


Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, has close ties to McConnell.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: New York Times


Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, was the second senator from his state at the bipartisan meetings.

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Angus King.
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Kevin Lamarque/Getty Images

Source: New York Times


Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, has, like Flake, emerged as a prominent Republican critic of Trump.

Sources: New York Times, Business Insider


Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, was enthusiastic about the coalition’s future. “We can make a lasting difference in how the Senate of the United States works,” he said.

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Coons with former President Barack Obama (center)
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Susan Walsh

Source: New York Times