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New Democrats Hope to Build Bridge

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Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, sent a letter Thursday announcing his intention to stay on as its leader.

“I believe strongly the New Democrat Coalition is uniquely positioned to help address the challenges and opportunities facing our nation and to re-energize our party to regain the majority,” Crowley wrote in his letter. “I am confident that our organization can continue to play a key role in the Democratic Caucus, and if elected I, along with my leadership team, will use this platform to build coalitions and work with the Administration, our party leadership and like-minded colleagues in Congress to move our nation forward.”

The New Democrats suffered a major hit to their ranks in November, losing nearly half of their 69 members to re-election losses and retirements. Now just 38 members strong, the coalition is looking to expand its ranks in the 112th Congress. Reps. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), John Carney (Del.), Bill Owens (N.Y.) and Cedric Richmond (La.) and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi are expected to be approved by the coalition as new inductees.

Leading the new task forces will be Reps. Susan Davis (Calif.) and Jared Polis (Colo.) on education and Larsen, Altmire and Rep. Laura Richardson (Calif.) on infrastructure.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), who had signaled to Crowley that she would like to play a key role on energy policy prior to the Tucson shooting, will also be named as a co-chairwoman, along with Reps. Rush Holt (N.J.) and Ed Perlmutter (Colo.).

The New Democrat Coalition emerged in 1997 when Clinton was in the White House, and its members are hoping to regain their footing in a divided government. The group floundered after President George W. Bush took office, and it has been working to find a foothold as the moderate voice in Congress.

Tax reform and deficit reduction will also be areas where the coalition hopes to have an effect, according to a senior aide to one of the group’s members.

“Those are areas where there is potential agreement,” the aide said.

Rep. Kurt Schrader said informal conversations with House Republicans have already begun. The group has an opportunity to play an important role as the administration and the new majority look to tackle trade agreements and improve the health care bill, the Oregon Democrat said.

“New Dems philosophy is all about empowering the private sector to be the solution,” Schrader said. “We’re about jobs, we’re about business and we’re about growth.”

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