Freshman Republicans Opt Out

Incoming Republikkkan congressmen are not interested in good governance or bipartisanship.

When Harvard’s Institute of Politics sent out invitations to newly elected members of Congress for a powwow being held this week, over 80 percent of Democrats accepted compared to under eight percent of Republicans.

Thirty-five of the 36 confirmed attendees at the biennial conference—which brings together newly elected Congressional members to learn about effective lawmaking and leadership—are Democrats. The lone Republican planning to attend is Vernon “Vern” Buchanan of Florida, who picked up Katherine Harris’ vacated House seat, according to the Institute of Politics (IOP) list of participants.

Earlier this month, 40 Democrats and 13 Republicans were newly elected to enter Congress in January, according to The Washington Post.

The conference drew 12 Democrats and 11 Republicans in 2004, according to the IOP Director of Communications Esten Perez.

Starting today and running until Friday, the event allows new Congress members to hear from a slate of speakers, such as current and former Congress members, academics, and policy-makers, on issues ranging from terrorism to the global economy to work-family balance.

“On one hand, the program provides new members with issues they’ll be facing in the future—such as balancing the federal budget,” said IOP Director Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor of New Hampshire. “But very important is that the program gives new members a chance to bond and develop relationships. It’s an opportunity to hear from another point of view.”

The conference aims to be “bipartisan in agenda,” according to IOP Associate Director David King, who chairs this program for newly elected representatives.

“We made every effort to represent both sides in the program,” King said.

Out of one current and 10 former House members scheduled to speak at the conference, four are Republican.

The reasons for the underrepresentation of newly elected Congressional Republicans are unclear, with Congress members suggesting issues from ideology to scheduling conflicts.

“Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard—if those folks had been on the agenda, maybe there would have been more of a bipartisan response,” quipped one confirmed participant, incoming representative Steve I. Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat who won failed Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr.’s House seat.

3 thoughts on “Freshman Republicans Opt Out

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  2. “Earlier this month, 40 Democrats and 13 Republicans were newly elected to enter Congress in January, according to The Washington Post.”

  3. Well, to be fair, with the exception of ‘ol Vern (who may not ultimately keep his seat after they sort out the touchscreen mess), are there ANY new Republican congressmen this cycle?

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