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Ex-FBI Agent Hunts For Consensus On Capitol Hill

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Ex-FBI Agent Hunts For Consensus On Capitol Hill

Politics

Ex-FBI Agent Hunts For Consensus On Capitol Hill

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The freshmen members of Congress include the man we'll meet next. Republican Michael Grimm has a rather unusual resume for a congressman. He used to work undercover as an FBI agent. He investigated the mob, and crime on Wall Street.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston has the story.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: When Michael Grimm ran for the congressional seat in the mostly blue-collar 13th District of New York, he had a flood of endorsements. The Tea Party backed him. So did Sarah Palin, and so did the former mayor of New York.

r. RUDY GIULIANI (Former Mayor, New York City): This is Rudy Giuliani. I'm supporting Michael Grimm because he'll fight for Staten Island and Brooklyn families. A combat veteran, a former FBI agent and a small-business man, Michael Grimm

TEMPLE-RASTON: With endorsements like that and with the help of the Tea Party supporters, Grimm prevailed.

Representative MICHAEL GRIMM (Republican, New York): My campaign was much broader than just the Tea Party.

TEMPLE-RASTON: That's the new congressman.

REP. GRIMM: We had a tremendous amount of support outside of the Tea Party, so I think it's broader than that.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Are there a lot of Tea party members in Staten Island and Brooklyn?

REP. GRIMM: There are, actually. We have probably one of the best Tea Parties in the country, mostly because there are not many extremists. They are regular, everyday, hard-working people that really felt that this country was headed in the wrong direction, and that they didn't want to sit by.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Grimm says he thought the country was headed in the wrong direction on health care and the economy, and that's why he ran for office. He says his work at the FBI uniquely prepared him for his new job.

REP. GRIMM: I specialized in deep undercover work. And one of the things that made me successful as an undercover agent was my ability to find commonality among those that seemed to not have any. And right now, one of the biggest problems is the Congress is polarized. We have the far left and the far right, and if they don't meet somewhere in the middle, nothing will get done. And I am going to draw on that experience to find that common ground.

Representative MIKE ROGERS (Republican, Michigan): I'm Mike Rogers, the United States representative from the 8th District of Michigan.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Congressman Rogers has at least one thing in common with Grimm: He was an FBI agent, too.

Rep. ROGERS: The one thing I think helps is that one day, as an FBI agent, you can be talking to a petty thief on the street; the next day, to the CEO of a major corporation - and everybody in between.

TEMPLE-RASTON: The challenge for Grimm will be how to find common ground in such a contentious atmosphere on Capitol Hill. One possible area of agreement: financial reform.

Rogers is one of the House Republications who made the committee assignments. He put Grimm on the committee that will oversee financial services, partly because of the work Grimm did for the FBI on Wall Street.

Rep. ROGERS: I just can't think of a better skill set to come to Congress and then apply it to, I think, one of the most important markets that we have in the United States, and that's the financial services market.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Rogers says he and Grimm have started their own club on Capitol Hill. It's for former FBI agents turned lawmakers. So far, they are the only two members.

Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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