It’s not just moderates looking to collaborate. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, count themselves as supporters of the Simpson-Shuler letter. Welch has made his own attempts at bipartisanship this year, forming a coalition of Members from hurricane-ravaged states in September. In June, he struck an unlikely partnership with conservative Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to push for a withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan.
“Below the surface and all the combat, I think there’s a growing awareness among Members on both sides of the aisle that this standoff we’re having, where every vote is party line and we don’t get anything done, is really creating an immense amount of frustration among our constituents,” Welch said.
And as leaders look to bring a potential set of recommendations from the super committee to the floor, as well as another continuing resolution to keep the government funded, a cross-section of Members is looking to show them that the votes will be there.
“There is a de facto middle that governs this place now and then on some of the big stuff,” Welch said. “Will it be there for the super committee recommendations? Will it be there for other things as well? Only time will tell.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.