Olympia Snowe
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Ex-Senator Olympia Snowe on how to change Congress

22 May 2013 Last updated at 02:35 BST

The approval ratings of US Congress are still very low - 15% - after years of partisan gridlock and repeated budget battles, with some lawmakers themselves losing hope in the institution.

Former Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate from Maine, retired in 2012 after 33 years in Congress, both as a representative and a senator. Ms Snowe said she would not run for re-election as she could no longer get anything done in the Senate.

But she tells the BBC's Katty Kay that she has a pathway for leading the legislature out of its cycle of deadlock.

"There is a way to reverse the trend," she says. "That is to be engaged and to communicate with your lawmakers... reward bipartisanship, compromise and consensus building."