2 Incoming Members Of Congress — A Republican And Democrat — On How To Find Common Ground

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Texas U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (AP/WBUR)
Texas U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (AP/WBUR)

Before they can start legislating, freshmen members of Congress need to learn the ropes of how their new job works.

Many of those members were at the Harvard Kennedy School this week for a congressional orientation focusing on bipartisanship.

Massachusetts U.S. Rep.-elect Lori Trahan, of the 3rd Congressional District, and Texas U.S. Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw spoke with Morning Edition about where they will apply what they've learned in orientation when they head to Washington, D.C.

Listen to the interview above. An extended interview is below:

Interview Highlights:

On how to talk to each other and find common ground

Crenshaw: "Because we are in a split government I think it kind of behooves us all to table some of the topics we just know we're not going to agree on, and focus on some of the things we might agree on, such as vocational training, such as infrastructure development. That would be, I think, a good sign to the American people that we can work together, and that's probably where we should start."

Trahan: "We are in this early stage where we are meeting one another and hearing each other's stories, and I think that presents a really cool opportunity to dispense with some of these preconceived notions that 'Oh, well he's an R and I'm a D and we're not going to agree'.... The thing that attracted me to this particular Congress was that whenever you have a critical mass of new people all going to Washington at the same time, you might be able to get at some of these issues in a very different way than what we have seen."

On how to fix a broken Washington

Crenshaw: "As a conservative I kind of like the idea that the federal government isn't always doing things. I like local control. Self governance at the local level is extremely important to me, so I'm always going to ask that question. So, I'm not saying it's not broken, but I think one of the biggest parts that is broken is the divisive rhetoric. That's what people are seeing, that's what people are sick of."

Trahan: "I couldn't agree more. When I think of our government being broken, certainly gridlock has something to do with it, but it's been completely exacerbated by the lack of civility and the tone we've seen in the last couple of years. So I'm excited about meeting my future colleagues, changing that culture, and getting to work."

On their plan for an agenda in Congress

Crenshaw: "We're in the minority and we have to recognize that. Our hope is that we find those 90 percent solutions and then we build a bill on that. What both sides tend to do, and blame goes all around on this, is you then add 10 percent that you know the other side can't vote for, and then you blame them for voting against the good stuff. I hope we can avoid that."

Trahan: "I think that there's opportunity to solve some of these shared challenges that's confronting the largest employers in our country, it's confronting us as a country, to come up with new innovative prescriptions. And also, to Dan's point about crafting a bill that has just enough in it to make it uncomfortable for the other side, you will often see these huge packages coming out of Congress, and they want to hit a home run. I think sometimes we could benefit from just having a few singles. ... I think that there's opportunities to find a place to just make progress and build the muscles to work together."

On baseball

Crenshaw: I will say after the Astros were out of the running, I was cheering for the Red Sox, goes without saying.

Trahan: See, I like you more now.

Crenshaw: And I will say this, the Yankees are my least favorite team, how about that.

This article was originally published on December 06, 2018.

This segment aired on December 6, 2018.


Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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