A group of pro-business Democrats in the House its looking for ways to assert its influence by cutting deals with the GOP in the way it did to pass the landmark trade legislation, Politico
The New Democrat Coalition, which boasts roughly 50 members, is looking to team up with Republicans on issues from taxes and trade to Medicare and government spending, giving the GOP a chance to move legislation that some of its conservative lawmakers would otherwise be blocking.
"We need to reconstitute the center of American politics again, on both sides. That is the crucial role we have to play, especially when it comes to the economic message and what resonates in those competitive districts," Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, who is leading the coalition, told Politico.
The Democratic moderates are trying to wrestle control of the party's agenda from the liberal wing, which they feel have spent too much time focusing on issues such as the minimum wage and pay equity — issues they believe do not speak to the suburban voters that the party needs to win back the House.
The coalition is already having some influence. President Barack Obama turned to it when he was struggling with his own party to pass the landmark trade legislation. The group delivered 28 votes, which cleared the way to pass the fast-track trade authority
even though the party’s leadership opposed it.
Moderates are also seeking to flex their muscles on other issues ordinarily the domain of Republicans, from reforming the Dodd-Frank financial regulations to finding compromise on foreign tax issues, Politico reported.
"There is a real opportunity to work with the administration and to work with the majority to try and get [our issues] done," California Rep. Ami Bera, a member of the group, told Politico. "There is an appetite."
The approach has gotten pushback from liberals in the party. Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano slammed the caucus at a January meeting, telling members who supported rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations that they "might as well be a Republican."
Unions, meanwhile, have pledged to rescind fundraising and support from members of the coalition who supported the trade package, Politico said.
But Kind said that having regular meetings with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with its success in helping to pass Obama’s trade bill, has given the group more clout.
"We’re trying to develop an economic message that we felt was lacking in the last election. We want more of an open-opportunity message that is less about grievances and more about inclusiveness," Kind said, according to Politico. "There is a little bit of tug-of-war going on."
The New Democrats are also working to establish closer relationships with moderate Republicans in the House in a bid to find common ground.
"It has not been that frequent that we’ve been as assertive as we have in the past few months," Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly told Politico. "It’s a new factor. We’re going to insist that our voice is going to be heard and respected."
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