One of the more prominent Democrats in the left-leaning freshman class of the upper chamber in the 113th Congress said he “absolutely” believes the Senate can be functional next year.
“Our history shows that the Senate in particular is not on a one-way path to dysfunction,” former Virginia governor and Sen.-elect Tim Kaine said on PBS Friday.
“There are moments of great functionality and moments of great dysfunctionality. And often those moments are near in time to one another. But we’re not on a one-way path to dysfunction,” he said. “The building can change with the character and inclinations of people who walk into that building every day. And I think you got have a group of 12 newcomers who are coming in who will scramble the equation.”
Those newcomers include three Republicans, Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), and Ted Cruz (Texas); one independent who has decided to caucus with the Dems, Angus King (Maine); and eight Democrats — Kaine, Rep. Chris Murphy (Conn.), Rep. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Rep. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.).
Baldwin and Warren are expected to be furthest to the left, while Cruz is expected to be furthest to the right out of the new batch.
Kaine said he thinks the new class could set an example, though. He said he’s already had “a number of conversations” with the incoming Republicans.
“I intend to hit the ground on January 3 very much running, because, again, I think we have got to make some hard fiscal and budgetary decisions that are truly balanced and make them quick. And I do think there are some other big-picture issues, like immigration reform and others, where I think we can make progress quickly if we listen to each other and find those points of common ground that I think do exist,” Kaine said.
“And those who are there, you know, the 88 who remain I think want to make sure that the Senate gets a restored reputation for being that place that the founders intended where, you know, country comes first, and then relationships, and then party,” he added.