Having just transitioned from the House and only two years removed from GOP leadership, Sen. Roy Blunt could offer his new colleagues unmatched access and insight into the majority on the other side of the Dome.
The Senate is littered with former House Members on both sides of the aisle. But few equal the freshness of the Missouri Republican’s service, proximity to the current GOP leadership and wealth of personal relationships, including among a few Democrats. This isn’t lost on Senate Republican leaders, who stand to benefit from Blunt’s connections and could use his knowledge to their advantage in dealings with the House.
“He’s very experienced,” said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), who has appointed Blunt to serve on the Republican Whip team. “He is a very thoughtful Member with a lot of experience, can analyze things well. He doesn’t get out and talk about things a lot. He’s able to do his job very effectively but without a lot of fanfare. ... He has very good contacts over in the House, both on the R and D side.”
Blunt, who celebrated his 61st birthday last week, was elected in November after a 14-year House tenure that included stints as both Majority and Minority Whip. He served briefly as interim Majority Leader in 2006 but lost a bid for Minority Leader later that year to now-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Blunt is one of two newly installed Senators whom Kyl appointed to serve in the Whip operation; Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) is the other.
In an interview, the Missourian appeared nonchalant about the appointment and his potential role as go- between for Republican leadership and old friends in the House. But he acknowledged that his skill set makes him well-suited for the job and said he is happy to assist Kyl and lend a hand to his new Conference. As a former Whip, Blunt had an existing relationship with Senate GOP leaders and is accustomed to bicameral negotiating.
“I think I probably come to the Senate with as much experience in dealing with the Senate as any legislator’s ever had, because I was in leadership meetings with the Senate leaders for a decade, virtually every week,” Blunt said two days after being sworn in. “I do know all the Senate leaders and all the House leaders very, very well. A whole bunch of the House leadership staff has worked for me, and sometimes your best sources of information are the staff, not the Members. I’ll keep talking to my friends over there and I’ll be helpful in every way I can.”
“There needs to be as much House-Senate communication as there can be,” Blunt added. “There’s lots of people that can do that now.” Among the 13 new Republican Senators, six are House veterans: Blunt, Portman, and Sens. John Boozman (Ark.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Jerry Moran (Kan.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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