Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Centrists Eye Central Role in a Divided House

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
LaTourette has urged centrists to serve as the “governing wing of the Republican Party” and plans to help them deal with any blowback cause by the forging of bipartisan deals in the new Congress.

Exceptions to the rule found centrist Republicans voting with Democrats to clear the fiscal cliff agreement 257-167 on Jan. 1 and to pass 241-180 a contentious $50.5 billion Superstorm Sandy aid bill Tuesday. In each case, a majority of Republicans voted against the measures.

Hastert said in an interview that he doubted such floor tactics would be used on many occasions. “If you operate that way, you lose control of the agenda,” he said.

But Ronald M. Peters Jr., a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma, said he believed Boehner would have the leeway to make an exception on a proposal to raise the debt limit on the grounds that inaction could spark a drop in the financial markets.

“If he thinks it’s something that must be done because it’s in the public interest, I think he’ll allow the vote,” Peters said. But he predicted that Boehner and his team would take a tougher line on the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution expiring March 27 and automatic spending cuts set to take effect March 1 under the 2011 debt deal.

With an eye on the debt limit fight, Dent said moderates are working to develop priorities on the deficit, spending cuts and a possible tax overhaul. But lawmakers are also wary of attacks from conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and tea party activists that opposed the fiscal cliff deal. Some pointed to a ruling by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, that the deal did not violate the no-new-taxes pledge administered by his group as helpful to them in voting for the fiscal cliff agreement.

LaTourette said he and other centrist Republicans were “committed to reaching out to fair-minded members of the Democratic Party. We understand that bipartisan compromise — by its very definition — means working with members of the other party.”

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