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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.

Moderate Republicans are looking for ways to play a decisive role in ad hoc coalitions on divisive fiscal issues in the 113th Congress and devising survival strategies with constituent group allies for the coming 2014 elections.

The efforts are aimed at building on the voting blocs that helped push significant measures through the GOP-controlled House in the past month, despite the objections of conservatives.

Republican moderates including Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania say they are open to being part of bipartisan coalitions on some issues and are working with supporters to deal with any political fallout from their decision to support the contentious fiscal cliff agreement.

Dent, chairman of the moderate 45-member Tuesday Group, said he hoped to recruit new members to attend his weekly lunches. And he noted that centrists were encouraged by the work of a revamped support group, the Main Street Partnership, led by former Rep. Steven C. LaTourette of Ohio, who plans to help centrists deal with any blowback in their campaigns.

Theyve been helpful. Hes going to be very active politically, Dent said of LaTourette. Hes got a keen sense of governance. Hes got good political instincts.

As the partnerships president and CEO, LaTourette has urged centrists to serve as the governing wing of the Republican Party. To support their efforts, he recently pushed for a significant name change, removing the word Republican from the partnerships moniker.

We need more voices in Washington willing to put the best interests of the American people above petty partisanship, LaTourette said in a written statement.

The name change fits the plans that LaTourette and many centrists have for bipartisan deals in the 113th Congress. It also fits LaTourettes vision for a possible super PAC, which must be independent of either party, to collect unlimited contributions and mount unlimited independent expenditures.

The super PAC would exist alongside a Main Street political action committee that raised $1.2 million and gave about $435,000 to congressional candidates in the 2012 election cycle.

The push to unify and energize centrist Republicans comes as they are positioned to provide potentially crucial swing votes for legislation aimed at resolving deeply partisan fiscal disputes in the opening weeks of the 113th Congress.

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and his team have been vague about whether they would allow further exceptions to the majority of the majority rule established by former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois which bars floor action on bills without support of a majority of the Republican Congress.

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