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Democrats, adjusting to their return to the minority, have said they see opportunities to align with centrist Republicans in the new Congress. A top ally for the Democratic moderates, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), said Monday that wants to meet with Emerson and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), the other Tuesday Group co-chairman, after this week’s recess. Hoyer has already met with GOP leaders and said he hopes they will enable deal-making between GOP moderates and Democrats.
“I’m hopeful that I can be a bridge — and I believe I can — between ourselves and a group that I think we might be able to reach common ground and work on some issues” with, Hoyer said.
“It’s been difficult to get moderates to come along if their leadership is adamantly opposed, so I think it’s a two-step process,” he added.
Emerson said she has not sought meetings with Blue Dogs, and Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) noted that previous attempts to work with that bloc didn’t go anywhere.
“We tried, when they were in the majority, and they weren’t so interested in working with us on some issues,” he said. “There may be a repeat of that to try and reach out, but it’s not a stated goal of the Tuesday Group to be the finger in the eye of the Republican leadership.”
But LaTourette said he wants GOP colleagues to avoid politicizing their fiscal agenda because it could ultimately hurt the party in the next elections.
“From my perspective, at our peril we deviate from that ‘We have to get spending under control’ message to again go out and target things like the National Endowment for the Arts and the Public Broadcasting Service,” he said. “I think everyone accepts that difficult spending decisions have to be made, [but] I don’t know if the independents are going to go along with us if for a little bit of money we ideologically target them. So that’s a good place where we can make something happen.”
LaTourette and Emerson both noted that many of the centrists hail from Midwest and Northeast states where the GOP made significant gains in the last elections but in past years suffered. The Tuesday Group has also expanded its ranks to more conservative Members over the years, and 17 of the group’s 43 members also belong to the conservative Republican Study Committee. Yet while Tuesday Group members boast their largest roster ever, the group still makes up less than one-fifth of the GOP Conference. By comparison, the RSC’s 174 members represent more than half of all House Republicans.
Unlike the Tuesday Group, the RSC unveiled a sweeping legislative agenda for the 112th Congress and has laid down its marker for spending cuts and the upcoming debate over the debt limit.
Tricia Miller contributed to this report.