Moderate and conservative groups in the House Republican Conference are joining forces to press the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats on several issues where they have common ground.
Leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee and the moderate Tuesday Group — which together represent the bulk of the House Republican caucus — on Friday sent a letter to President Barack Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk asking that free-trade agreements already negotiated between the United States and the nations of Colombia, South Korea and Panama be moved promptly.
Free-trade agreements “bolster and expand the American markets, keep the United States globally competitive and create opportunities for jobs at home,— according to the letter signed by Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Calif.) and co-chairmen of the Tuesday Group, Reps. Charlie Dent (Pa.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).
“U.S. exports to our FTA partner countries have grown 40 percent faster than U.S. exports to the rest of the world. Thus, more FTAs would provide robust economic benefits to Americans at this time of economic crisis,— the letter continued.
Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), who served as the ranking member on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade in the 110th Congress, also signed the letter.
Price said the letter on trade is the first in a series of joint efforts and that the two groups expect to have a coordinated effort on national security as well as energy and health care issues.
Several members of the Republican Conference are part of both groups, but this is the first time in five years they have joined together to push for an issue, according to the RSC.
Dent said that although they have found several places to meet in the middle, the differences and the unique roles the Tuesday Group and the RSC play in the House Republican Conference remain intact.
“Tuesday Group members have always had a more pragmatic streak. The RSC tend to be a bit more ideological,— he said.
Asked whether the collaboration was born out of life deep in the minority, Price said it had more to do with common goals and common sense.
“I think it just makes sense when you have issues that are important to both groups,— Price said, adding that he has also reached out to Blue Dog Democrats for similar collaborations. “Hopefully, we will be able to work with them in the future.—