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Rep. Charlie Dent: GOP Right on Issues, Shaky on Tactics

By    |   Friday, 13 March 2015 09:17 PM

Congress should challenge White House decrees on immigration and scrutinize a nuclear deal with Iran, but Republican lawmakers need to wage those policy battles without hurting the party's 2016 presidential chances, Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Friday.

"The issue is one of tactics more than substance," said Dent, a six-term Republican lawmaker known as a moderate able to work with Democrats. "Where we as Republicans have gotten ourselves in trouble is over tactics and not managing expectations realistically."

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Dent gave two examples: the fight to defund President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration; and the letter to Iran from 47 Senate Republicans warning that a nuclear deal could be thrown out.

"I very much disagree with what the president did in that executive action; the president overreached and there are clearly legal and constitutional problems with what he did," he said. "But I also realized there were never going to be 60 votes in the Senate to undo that action."

A partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security — which was narrowly averted — is "not a winning issue or a winning tactic for Republicans," said Dent.

On the Iran letter, which most Democrats and some Republicans have criticized, "Again, the issue wasn't the substance of the letter; it was just a tactic that was used," said Dent.

"And it's distracted us from the broader policy issues."

The letter has allowed Obama to complain about Republicans undermining him and avoid the substance of the matter, said Dent.

"My fear is … if this is a bad agreement, what will happen is, this will set off a new round of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, possibly Egypt, and of course Iran," he said. "That's really the issue that we should be focused on. The letter … is a distraction and a sideshow."

Said Dent, "When it comes to undermining of the president by members of Congress, we really have to look at Nancy Pelosi going to meet with Bashar al-Assad during the Iraq war over the objections of the Bush administration."

Above all, he said, "The Republicans in the House and Senate must demonstrate a capacity for governance. That is absolutely essential."

The problem, he said, is "two to four dozen" House Republicans who do not share what he called an "affirmative sense of government" and who are forcing the rest of the caucus to work with Democrats to get even routine congressional business done.

Dent said the GOP will hold the House regardless in 2016. But if threatened government shutdowns become the norm, "the damage will be to our Republican presidential nominee," he said, because "there will be reticence or hesitation by enough swing voters not to give us the White House."

Dent said to let budget-writing proceed without apocalyptic showdowns, and to put "points on the board" by passing bills on trade, transportation, tax reform and cyber-security.

Do that, he said, and "the American public is going to reward our party, both congressionally and very likely our presidential nominee."

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Congress should challenge White House decrees on immigration and scrutinize a nuclear deal with Iran, but Republican lawmakers need to wage those policy battles without hurting...
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Friday, 13 March 2015 09:17 PM
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