Photos: Reaching across the aisle

Published 2:43 PM ET, Wed March 13, 2013
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Despite a number of bipartisan "gangs" of lawmakers trying to break legislative logjams, there aren't many recent examples of Democrats and Republicans working together to craft significant legislation.

President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress have been pretty much in warring camps over issues like health care reform to fiscal policy to tax breaks. And while Republicans say they welcome the president's recent outreach to them, they also say their expectations of anything productive are low.

But despite the polarization that has gripped Washington in recent memory, there are examples of members of opposing parties tossing partisanship aside to forge agreements on some of the most significant pieces of legislation in the country's history:
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Teams of rivals

President Abraham Lincoln included opponents in his Cabinet. He appointed William Seward, who ran against him for their party's nomination, as secretary of state.

Similarly, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt chose Republican Henry L. Stimson as his secretary of war during World II. A more modern example is President Barack Obama keeping his predecessor's secretary of defense, Robert Gates.
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Everett Dirksen and Hubert Humphrey

Before it was passed in 1964, The Civil Rights Act, was filibustered a whopping 11 times by segregationist Southern Democrats. Democratic Senate Whip Humphrey enlisted Republican Minority Leader Dirksen to help find 27 GOP votes to avoid another filibuster, ultimately leading to its passage.
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Pat Moynihan and Bob Dole

It was 1983 and Social Security was in trouble. Democrat Sen. Moynihan paired up with Republican Sen. Dole to lead a commission on how to save it. Eventually, they managed to come to an agreement and bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans on how to keep Social Security solvent for future generations.
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Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan

The relationship between then-Speaker of the House O'Neill and then-President Reagan in the 1980s is the ideal example of bipartisanship. O'Neill was considered an icon in the Democratic Party, while Reagan was slowly cementing his legacy as a conservative hero. However, both were responsible for passing legislation and both were able to keep Washington functioning. In fact, at one point, Reagan had said during a luncheon to celebrate O'Neill's birthday, "Tip, if I had a ticket to heaven and you didn't have one, too, well, I'd give my ticket back and go to hell with you."
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Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton

Although during the 2012 presidential campaign, Gingrich and Clinton were top surrogates in opposing camps, both had worked together before -- while Gingrich was speaker of the House leading the so-called Republican Revolution and Clinton was in the White House, the two got welfare reform legislation passed in 1996. Gingrich would soon be calling for Clinton's impeachment, though, over the Monica Lewinsky affair.
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George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy

One was from a family of Massachusetts liberals dubbed the "Lion of the Senate" and the other had recently started the second chapter of his family's White House legacy in the controversial election of 2000. However, it was Kennedy, an icon for many Democrats, who sponsored Bush's landmark No Child Left Behind legislation of 2002, which dramatically changed education.
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John McCain and Russ Feingold

The Russ-Feingold Act was named after its two main sponsors, Republican Sen. McCain and Democratic Sen. Feingold. Although both were from either side of the partisan divide, they both agreed in 2002 to work together on campaign finance reform leading to the act that tried to reduce the influence of special interest groups on elections.
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The Watergate scandal revealed Republican operatives trying to derail and destroy the political careers of rival Democrats. The investigations into that scandal brought together lawmakers from both sides trying to sort through the mess, with Republican Sen. Howard Baker and Democratic Sen. Sam Ervin leading the effort. A decade later, Democrat Daniel Inouye chose Republican Warren Rudman as his vice chairman in the Senate probe of the Iran-Contra affair. Rudman considered Inouye's gesture "a statesmanlike act."
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