Washington – With Donald Trump’s presidency fueling partisan fires in Congress, a group of centrist Democrats led by Rep. Jim Himes is trying to find common ground with GOP counterparts.
The pro-business “New Democrat Coalition” co-chaired by Himes, D-4th District, gathered with members of the “Tuesday Group” of House Republican moderates for a long lunch in the basement of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.
The goal was to determine whether they could come together on infrastructure, budget, tax and other issues.
“We talked about areas we might agree on,” Himes said.
With 54 members, the New Democrat Coalition carries weight inside the party. The Tuesday Group also numbers 54 members.
Together, Himes said, both groups count, with 108 members, or one quarter of the House’s 435 seats.
Himes said he does not know how far some of the GOP members would distance themselves from Trump because many are wary of openly defying the president. There are also potential consequences of when a Republican defies a party leader.
But Himes said Tuesday Group members are concerned about some of Trump’s controversial moves.
“There are a number of them who are just waiting for things to blow up again,” he said.
On the the hand, several Tuesday Group members say that on some issues – including infrastructure spending – Trump sounds more like a Democrat than a Republican, opening the door for dealmaking.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, gave a presentation at the meeting about how an agreement might be reached on a health-care overhaul.
Himes said the two groups usually meet twice a year and he wanted a gathering as soon as possible in the new Congress. In Wednesday’s meeting, the lawmakers agreed to meet more often so they could try to forge a common agenda.