Common Ground Is A Battlefield For New Congress The GOP picked up 60 seats in the House in the midterm elections. Republican leaders are talking about a mandate, but the Democrats who remain are not about to give up their ground without a fight. Guest host Lynn Neary talks to NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook and Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving about what we can expect from the 112th Congress.
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Common Ground Is A Battlefield For New Congress

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Common Ground Is A Battlefield For New Congress

Common Ground Is A Battlefield For New Congress

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

Joining us now to discuss what to expect from the next Congress are NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook and senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Good to have you with us.

RON ELVING: Good to be with you, Lynn.

ANDREA SEABROOK: Hi.

NEARY: Let's start in the House, Andrea. That's your territory. Now, we've got some, I think, pretty surprising news to many people on Friday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to be the leader of the Democrats in the minority. What is she thinking?

SEABROOK: Now, the Republicans couldn't be happier about this because they've really targeted her and made her sort of the head of their opposition, sort of vilified her in a way. But I've heard a lot of Democrats say, look, this is the first time we just haven't cowered. We're not going to let the Republicans write the story about Nancy Pelosi, and she's been a great leader, let's keep her. It's very strange though.

NEARY: And, Ron, Harry Reid is keeping his leadership post in the Senate apparently. So, this is a repeat of the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid show. Is that a good idea for the Democrats?

ELVING: And as a practical matter, running against the current leader is very rarely done because of the risks involved in losing.

NEARY: You know, Ron, in writing about this, particularly with regard to Nancy Pelosi, you've used the word hubris, which often implies that ultimately things are not going to end well for the person who shows that characteristic. What do you mean when you talk about this as being a case of possible hubris that could backfire?

ELVING: The Democrats, and particularly Nancy Pelosi, feels strongly that what they have done is the right thing. They have done what they should have done, they have pursued the right policies and that history will be on their side. That matters more to them than how it may look, at least for the moment, at least for the people who voted on Tuesday.

NEARY: Let's go back to the Republicans for a moment, because there's going to be a new speaker of the House, presumably John Boehner. Andrea, what kind of leader can we expect him to be?

SEABROOK: And that is really one of the keys to being an effective leader of any party in the House. It's being able to listen to every single kind of Republican there is - and we have a lot of different kinds of Republicans in the House, or will in January - and being able to bring them together to get them to all vote on the same things.

NEARY: Are there any other Republican leadership positions up for grabs?

ELVING: She started the Tea Party caucus in the Republican House membership, and she would like very much to get into the leadership to bring the perspective of the Tea Party directly into the leadership. So, she's running for the number four position of conference chairman - that would be the person who convenes the meeting of all the Republicans in the House.

NEARY: Well, you know, those newly elected House members who are backed by the Tea Party tend to see things in very ideologically pure terms. So, will they cooperate with Boehner and the Republican leadership or will they block GOP initiatives that they don't think are ideologically pure?

SEABROOK: That said, the Republicans will probably hang together. They all want to cut spending and have more tax cuts, so they will find that common ground at some point.

NEARY: Ron, how does this new congressional equation position everyone for 2012?

ELVING: So, their main priority for 2012 is to elect a Republican Senate that will pass the same legislation that this coming House will be inclined to pass and a Republican president who would sign it into law.

NEARY: NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook and senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Thanks to both of you.

SEABROOK: Thanks, Lynn.

ELVING: Thank you, Lynn.

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