U.S. Representative David Price of North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District visited the WCHL studio recently to discuss several issues in the news, including partisan gridlock in Washington.
On that subject, Price said that the deterioration of bipartisan cooperation in congress since the mid-nineties became much worse after the 2010 midterms.
“What’s new since the 2010 elections is the rightward turn of the Republican Party, which adds an element,” said Price, “because this rightward turn involves a strong libertarian bent, and anti-government attitude that really makes [bipartisan] cooperation very, very difficult.”
Price also cited what he called “a visceral reaction to President Obama” from Republicans as a major factor in the never-ending congressional standoff.
He said he finds the current Congress even more contentious than it was around 1994, when he briefly lost his congressional seat to Republican Fred Heineman.
Back then, Price was a casualty of a Republican Revolution led by Newt Gingrich during President Clinton’s first term.
Price regained his seat in 1996. He sounds now like he looks back almost fondly to the era of House Speaker Gingrich.
“At the time, it seemed like it was pretty severe,” Price recalled. “But you know, in retrospect, Newt Gingrich could deliver his caucus. He could work with President Clinton to get an agreement on the big budget questions of the day, as well as lots of other things.”
Back then, he figures, it would have been easier to find bipartisan support for a highway bill, or even immigration reform.
When asked what legislators on both sides of the aisle can do to improve the seemingly hopeless situation, Price began his answer by pointing out that all is not lost at the moment. He cited some examples form the appropriations process.
“We’ve had one ourselves on the homeland security bill,” said Price. “we sometimes have these fire-breathing immigration amendments that blow it all apart, but we often work together to cooperatively do a homeland security bill.”
Price added that a bill he introduced to open the books on college athletics is haping up as a bipartisan effort.
He added that individual Democratic congress members should always ask themselves if they are part of the solution, or part of the problem while negotiating with Republicans in committees.