House Democrats are pressing Republicans to compromise with them on potential policy pursuits, as they profess the need for more bipartisanship heading into the minority come January.
Incoming Democratic leaders are proclaiming their willingness to work with Republicans, touting key legislative victories on guns and infrastructure that the current Congress passed with the aid of some GOP lawmakers in both chambers.
“We seek to find common ground whenever and wherever possible and we hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, as they temporarily inherit the majority in the next Congress, are willing to proceed with that same spirit of cooperation, fortitude, and mission-centered focus to get things done for everybody,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who will serve as the Democrats’ leader next year.
Rep. Katherine Clark, Massachusetts Democrat and incoming whip, echoed that message.
“Our door is open for any member from across the aisle who wants to get work done for the American people,” she said. “If they want to divide, if they want to obstruct, if they want to have political theater instead of finding those solutions the American people want, we will be here to oppose.”
The calls for working together are a far cry from Democratic messaging that sought to paint the GOP as “MAGA extremists” prior to the midterm elections, which saw Democrats lose seats and the majority.
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But Republicans will hold a narrower-than-expected majority next year, meaning they may need some Democratic votes to pass bills in the House.
Some GOP members are giving Democrats the cold shoulder on their early call to work together, saying Democrats have a very short memory.
“It’s interesting that they want more bipartisanship when they’re going into the minority. They didn’t give us any bipartisanship when we’re in the minority,” said Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, Georgia Republican.
Rep. Ben Cline, Virginia Republican, said he would have to see a major shift among Democrats and the Biden administration on key issues, particularly related to illegal immigration, which GOP lawmakers have vowed to crack down on next year.
“We’re going to have to see a fundamental shift from the administration and a willingness to even engage,” Mr. Cline said.
Democrats passed much of their legislation with some GOP support while they held a narrow majority in the House. Democrats will still maintain the majority in the Senate next year.
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Thirteen House Republicans voted in favor of the Democrat-led infrastructure bill last year, while 14 joined Democrats to pass federal gun safety legislation.
Two dozen House Republicans also helped pass a $280 billion bill earlier this year, aimed at shoring up semiconductor chip manufacturing and competing with China on scientific research.
But other major bills, such as President Biden’s $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act that included major climate change provisions, were passed with no Republican support. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in 2021 without a single Republican vote.
Democrats say in the next Congress, working with them could help the GOP get bills across the finish line with narrow margins.
“Their majority is so narrow and some of their members are so anarchic, if they’re serious about getting some stuff done, they need some Democratic help,” said Rep. Jim Himes, Connecticut Democrat.
Members mentioned finding a solution to aid immigrants who entered the country illegally as children, sometimes known as Dreamers, as one example that is widely supported by both parties.
Others mentioned veterans’ issues, mental health, and housing problems as possible areas both parties can unite on.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat who is among the most liberal in the caucus, said she can also see common ground on civil liberties or privacy issues with Republicans.
“If we’re going to do anything, it’s going to have to be with that [GOP] majority,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “I’ve had surprising agreement on a wide range of issues from civil liberties issues, around privacy, curtailing surveillance … even in some narrow environmental issues, there could be some windows as well.”
However, Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, incoming Democratic caucus chairman, said it’s also important for Democrats to hold strength against Republicans where they disagree, warning against extremist elements in the party.
“Unfortunately, there are folks on the other side of the aisle who go to white nationalist conferences and come from the far-right corners of the country, and we’re going to have to push back against those ideas as well,” Mr. Aguilar said.