By Mike Lillis
A senior House Republican predicted this week that GOP leaders in the lower chamber will enjoy significant support this Congress from an unlikely source: Democrats.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) anticipates Republicans will be able to rally dozens of centrist Democrats behind GOP initiatives this year — a trend that would lend GOP leaders a stark advantage over the outgoing Democrats, whose most prominent legislative victories came without a single GOP vote.
"The new House Republican majority is going to be an action majority, and we're going to try to do it on a bipartisan basis," Barton told the Fox Business Network on Friday. "I think one of the mistakes that [Senate] Majority Leader Reid made, and Speaker Pelosi, is they had such huge partisan majorities that they tried to do it just within their own party. And I don't think that will work."
Of the 63 House seats lost by the Democrats in the midterm elections, a large bulk of them were occupied by conservative-leaning lawmakers with a history of bucking their party on fiscal measures, among other issues. Indeed, there were 54 members of the conservative Blue Dog Caucus in the 111th Congress; that number will fall to 26 in the 112th, creating a decidedly more liberal Democratic Caucus this year.
Still, Barton is predicting support from more than just the Blue Dogs.
"I think we can get 40 or 50 moderate, and a few conservative Democrats that are left to vote with us so that we send these bills to the Senate with a bipartisan majority, in some cases approaching 290 to 295 votes," he said. "I'm hopeful that the president will listen and the Democrats that are left standing will listen and they will work with us."