The Tuesday Group and New Democrats met on Tuesday, bringing together moderate members of both parties to talk about areas that may be ripe for bipartisanship.
“We talked about budget, we talked about health care, we talked about tax reform – all with the intent of finding ways where there might be common ground,” New Democrats Chairman Jim Himes told Roll Call.
The Connecticut Democrat said this is the second meeting the groups have held together this Congress and that it was coincidentally timed after the GOP’s partisan approach to health has stalled in the Senate. Himes said he was hopeful but not optimistic that failure will lead to bipartisan action on health care.
“Health care is such a freighted religious issue for people that I don’t think a failure on the Senate side leads to next week kumbayas and bipartisan action. I think it’s much more likely on infrastructure, potentially on tax reform. But you got to start somewhere.”
Himes criticized President Donald Trump for trying to label Democrats as obstructionists when Republicans were the ones who decided to take a partisan approach to health care.
“Republicans in Congress set health care up to move through reconciliation,” he said. “That is telling us to go pound sand in advance. That is not a good way to get us on board.”
The Tuesday Group/New Democrats lunch exemplifies how legislation should be produced, Himes said, noting, “Resilient legislation is bipartisan.”
Tuesday Group Co-Chairman Charlie Dent, who wasn't at the lunch because he was at an appropriations markup, said earlier in the day he didn't think the Senate's repeal only, partisan approach was a good approach, and suggested a bipartisan approach was the way to go.
"I think that probably wouldn't be a very wise strategy here...we're going to have to fix what's broken here," the Pennsylvania Republican said about the repeal only strategy.
A handful of New Democrats members last week unveiled a set of policy proposals aimed at stabilizing health insurance markets.
Himes said the New Democrats shared the proposals, which he noted are designed to be bipartisan, with the Tuesday Group members during their meeting.
Kellie Mejdrich contributed to this story.