More ‘Bipartisan’ Congress Not Likely, Pence Says

By Josiah Ryan | November 14, 2008 | 6:14pm EST

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats plan to introduce a "comprehensive energy bill" this week, but Republicans say it doesn't go far enough.

(CNSNews.com) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) frequently said that if Democrats gained more seats in the Nov. 4 election, which they did, the incoming 111th Congress would be more bipartisan. But leading House Republican Mike Pence (Ind.) and a government expert from the Heritage Foundation told CNSNews.com they would be surprised if a larger margin of Democrats produced more bipartisanship.
 
The Democrats gained 18 seats in the House and seven in the Senate in the Nov. 4 election. A few days earlier, on Oct. 28, Pelosi said: "Elect us, hold us accountable, and make a judgment and then go from there. But I do tell you that if the Democrats win, and have substantial majorities, the Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan."
 
On election night, Pelosi said: “They [the American people] have called for a change for America. A very important part of that change will be the bipartisanship, and the civility in which we engage in our dialogue.”
 
But Pence, who is running for Republican Conference Chair in the House of Representatives, told CNSNews.com on Nov. 10 that he will be surprised if politics in the 111th Congress ends up as bipartisan as Pelosi predicts.
 
“I hope so,” said Pence. “Our hope is that that [partisanship] changes, but we will not be surprised if it doesn’t.
 
“As it’s been said before, I have an open mind but not an empty mind,” Pence said. “What we saw in the first two years of Democratic majorities was a fairly draconian control of the floor with little opportunity for the development of bipartisan consensus or the consideration of Republican alternatives.”

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)

Danielle Doane, director of congressional relations for the House at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told CNSNews.com that historically, dominant control of the House by one party or the other does not translate into bipartisan politics.
 
“With bigger majorities it is highly unlikely that Democratic leadership, or Speaker Pelosi in particular, will want or need to make overtures to the other side,” Doane said. “When you have tighter numbers, you are forced to go to the other party because you need their votes.”
 
Pence added that Republicans are preparing for a fight.
 
“We are going to take stands on key issues in vivid contrast to the liberal Democrat agenda, and we are going to engage the American people on a regular basis on those stands,” Pence said. “The strategy House Republicans will be advancing is one that says we are going to battle on the floor, in the air and on the blogosphere. We are going to call in the reinforcements of the American people.”
 
Doane said that Pence’s strategy is one that has been historically adopted by the minority party.
 
“If you are in the minority, you don’t want bipartisan – you want the fight,” Doane said.

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