House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has a message for the newly elected Democrats who swept dozens of his colleagues out of office and his party into the minority: I’ll work with you.
“When the new Congress is sworn in, we will all bear the ‘solemn responsibility’ of acting on behalf of our fellow citizens, as you wrote in a letter to your party’s leadership earlier this month,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to the incoming Democratic freshmen, obtained by Roll Call.
“In the spirit of that responsibility, I am writing to express my willingness to work with you for the good of the country — and to extend an open invitation to meet with you in the new year,” the California Republican said.
McCarthy’s staff hand-delivered the letter Thursday to office cubbies that have been set up for the newly elected lawmakers.
In it he responds to some of the points that 46 of the Democratic freshmen raised in a Dec. 3 letter to their party leadership.
“We are united in the belief that whatever the differences we may have with our Republican colleagues, it is our solemn responsibility to debate and pass legislation that improves the lives of those who elected us,” the Democratic class of 2019 wrote, calling for that to be a priority over congressional investigations.
“As you acknowledged in your letter to Democratic leadership, legislating is the number one priority of the legislative branch. I agree,” McCarthy said in his letter.
“If the next Congress devolves into a partisan food fight of accusations and investigations, it will come at the expense of real solutions for Americans,” he added. “A minority of loud voices seems to prefer that outcome, but I think our country is too great for a vision so small.”
McCarthy acknowledged that the offer may not seem genuine but that he is truly interested in developing new relationships across the aisle.
“We will not agree on every issue, and I understand if you doubt the sincerity of this offer in a political climate marked by distrust and polarization,” he said. “Despite all of that, I still believe in the power of relationships and our common interests to improve the lives of our neighbors.”
An in-person meeting would “help break down any barriers of misconception and strengthen the foundation for a productive working relationship,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy, whom his colleagues describe as affable and easy to get along with, is known for his ability to forge personal relationships. He’s demonstrated that the past two years as he’s developed a close bond with President Donald Trump.
And although that period of unified Republican control under Trump’s tenure has been marred by partisan battles, McCarthy noted that there’s been a lot of bipartisan work too.
Watch: McCarthy Gives Hoyer a Gift on the House Floor
“The 115th Congress has passed nearly 200 more bipartisan bills than average for a president’s first term,” he said. “That positive trend can and should continue in the 116th Congress.”
McCarthy said he’s encouraged by the eagerness freshmen always bring to Congress but too often that fades when members realize “the institutional barriers to change are higher than they appear — and that fresh talent and energy are not always valued highly in Washington.”
He urged the freshmen to keep a strong grasp on their core convictions while learning how to compromise and get things done.
“Do not hesitate to call if I or my staff can help in any way,” McCarthy concluded. “Washington can be an overwhelming place, especially for freshman members. There are still plenty of people that want to help.”