Since becoming GOP Conference vice chairman in January, Sen. Roy Blunt has sought to improve communication and push social media use among Conference members.
Sen. Roy Blunt wants to lay the foundation for a Republican Congress that is ready to govern come January 2013.
The Missourian is using his position as GOP Conference vice chairman to streamline communications and coordination between House and Senate Republicans and their staffs in preparation for Senate Republicans to join the House GOP in holding the reins of power in their respective chambers. He’d like to ensure that both chambers are ready to work in concert to pass major legislation addressing the issues Americans care most about. Of course, Democrats are doing their best to make Blunt’s effort a wasted exercise, working to take back the House and hold their four-seat Senate majority in the November elections.
“I clearly think our Members believe that we’ve got to develop a stronger relationship with the House, particularly if we want to be a governing majority,” Blunt said Thursday in an interview with Roll Call.
House and Senate Republicans have generally worked well together since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. On almost every major issue to hit Congress both before and after the GOP won the House in 2010 — Obama’s stimulus bill, health care reform, energy and the debt ceiling — there was little daylight between Republicans across the Capitol. But that coordination broke down in late December over legislation to extend the payroll tax holiday.
Blunt, 62, took over as Senate Republican vice chairman, the fifth-ranking leadership post, in late January, just after the political discord between GOP Members on the payroll tax cut. He spent 14 years in the House, where he served leadership as the Majority Whip — and briefly as interim Majority Leader — providing him with a unique perspective into the leadership dynamics of both chambers.
This could make Blunt well suited for the task he has assigned himself — determining a strategy for how the party should collaborate as a combined Republican majority. As the leader of Mitt Romney’s endorsement whip operation, Blunt could be additionally valuable as House and Senate Republicans seek to coordinate their message with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee going forward — and possibly next year if the former Massachusetts governor defeats Obama on Nov. 6.
“I think I can be helpful in better helping our Members understand what is going on in the House, and vice versa,” Blunt said. The vice chairmanship comes with no designated responsibility and ultimately functions however the Senator who fills it decides.
A GOP lobbyist with relationships in the Senate suggested that the miscommunication between House and Senate Republicans that occurred over the payroll tax holiday extension is unlikely to happen again, at least as long as Blunt is in leadership. “He’s keeping the Senate better apprised of House strategy and vice versa. The House will not ever again be surprised by a mood change in the Senate,” this Republican said.
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