Sept. 2, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Let's Get Along: House Freshmen Embrace Bipartisan Comity

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Murphy and other freshmen plan to form a bipartisan caucus to work toward solutions.

The letter calls for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to “strengthen and preserve Medicare and Social Security” by “reducing our long-term deficit and debt issues.” It also says Congress should “promote economic growth to generate revenue” by reforming the tax code to eliminate “corporate subsidies, tax loopholes and other subsidies to provide lower rates.”

At one point in the news conference, a reporter asked the Republicans on stage whether the letter’s revenues language squared with their signatures to the “Norquist pledge” not to raise taxes, which Democrats often target as a bane of bipartisanship.

It did, Pittenger said, something Norquist himself agreed with, calling the letter “incredibly helpful from my perspective.”

Referring to the Democratic participants, Norquist said, “What they’ll find out, bless their little naïve hearts, is that lower rates are a non-starter with the president of the United States. The signers of this letter have broken with Democratic orthodoxy, with the leadership of the Senate and the White House and Nancy Pelosi. The Republican signers may sound a little naive, but they did not say they want to raise taxes.”

Deluded or not, the freshmen are certainly sincere.

Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, serving her second term representing Arizona after she was defeated by Rep. Paul Gosar in 2010, announced she would be partnering with Gosar — the very man who defeated her — to introduce a new bill this week.

“It’s still all about jobs,” she said.

This letter, added GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, wasn’t just a letter.

“Not only did we sign a letter, what we did was made a commitment to truly try to work together. And the sincerity of my colleagues has been echoed over and over again.”

Meadows, a Republican whose district President Barack Obama visited Wednesday, said the cooperation was on display at the orientation events.

“What I found was, they were trying to help us with some of the language to make sure that we could sell it to our colleagues, and we were trying to help them with some of the language so they could sell it to their colleagues,” he said.

Rep. Kevin Cramer said he hoped the group’s bipartisan spirit would be an example to “senior members of the leadership,” in Washington and beyond.

“I hope that they see that we’re people that care about each other. While we love our country, we love each other. And that relationships matter.”

Rep. Grace Meng, a freshman who represents a heavily Democratic district in New York, said the freshman class’s calls for bipartisanship have, in fact, started to turn heads around town.

“A lobbyist even said to me yesterday, ‘You guys are saying it so much I am actually starting to believe you!’” Meng said.

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