The Virginia state government has tabbed Democratic state Delegate Suhas Subramanyam and Republican state Sen. Emmett Hanger as co-chairs for the Commonwealth Caucus with an eye at improving bipartisanship during the forthcoming legislative session.
The Roanoke Times reports that state lawmakers have expressed concern about the increased polarization happening in the legislature, leading to the development of the new caucus to show legislators across the political spectrum they can work together to find common ground on issues.
The 12 founding members come from all over the state and range from progressive Democrats to conservative Republicans, according to the report.
Hanger said the group will meet regularly to discuss important policies and legislation. One of its priorities will be electoral reform.
Hanger, who has served in the legislature for 32 years, has been lamenting in recent years about polarization increasing in the General Assembly, according to the Times.
"When I started, I considered myself to be one of the most conservative members, and I don't think my views have changed, but there are more people who are considerably to the right of me," Hanger said last week, according to the report. "On the other hand, there are people far to the left of me. I've been referred to as a 'moderate' now, and that used to bother me. But I've come to equate that label with meaning reasonable, and I accept that."
The General Assembly session began Jan. 8 and runs for 60 days.
Subramanyam won his seat in the 87th district in the 2019 election, helping Virginia flip from a Republican- to a Democrat-led legislature.
His family's story in America began in 1979, when Subramanyam’s mother, a native of Bangalore, immigrated to the United States. She landed at Dulles Airport to start a new life where she would later become a physician and raise a family. She united with the 87th District winner’s father, who was born in India and raised by the widow of a deceased army veteran. Together, they pursued the American dream and passed along values that Subramanyam holds today: serve your community, succeed with hard work, and empower those without a voice.
Those values stuck with him and, while at Tulane University and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, his community service work in the aftermath of the storm propelled him into a life of community service. The Indian American helped organize volunteers to rebuild and revitalize communities affected by the storm and, as president of the college's environmental club, pushed local officials to prioritize environmental standards during the rebuild.
Subramanyam graduated summa cum laude and turned down lucrative corporate opportunities to help get Democratic leaders elected.
He has since worked tirelessly to improve the health and prosperity of all Virginians and Americans. He served on Capitol Hill as a health care and veterans policy aide, where he worked to expand and improve health care access to millions of Americans and drafted legislation to increase job opportunities and funding for veterans.
He later earned his law degree with honors at Northwestern University School of Law, volunteering at the Center for Wrongful Convictions. There, he was part of the legal team that freed a man who had spent 21 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He also clerked for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where he helped re-introduce the DREAM Act and worked on criminal justice reforms.
Subramanyam serves as a volunteer firefighter at Ashburn Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department, and he is an active member of the Rotary Club of Ashburn. He was also appointed by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to the Loudoun Health Council, where he works to address some of the most pressing health care issues in Northern Virginia.