Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flip of Senate Shifts Missouri Senators' Roles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flip of Senate Shifts Missouri Senators' Roles

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * On the day after the Republican takeover of the Senate, Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, stressed her history of cooperation with Republicans.

Missouri's other senator, Republican Roy Blunt, said his connections with House Republicans would be an important factor in fulfilling GOP promises to make Congress work as it's supposed to.

With Republicans about to hold at least 52 and as many as 54 Senate seats come January, the two Missouri senators' changing roles emerge as among the biggest stories in state politics.

Blunt faces re-election in 2016, a year not nearly as geographically advantageous for Republicans as this year has been. Unlike Tuesday, when a progression of Democrat-held seats in red and purple states fell to the GOP, in 2016 the Republicans hold 24 of the 34 Senate seats that will be up. Many, such as in Missouri, are in states that are also likely to be heavily contested by presidential candidates and voter turnout traditionally tilts more toward Democrats in presidential election years.

Blunt has not announced whether he is running for re-election, but for all practical purpose he has been for some time, building a campaign account that could surpass $2 million by the end of the year. As a member of Senate leadership, he will have the opportunity to shape legislation debated and voted on in the Senate. But with that comes the expectation of following through on Republican promises to break Washington gridlock.

Blunt told Missouri reporters Wednesday that Republicans should "not be worried about sustaining the majority, but to assume that the best politics is actually doing your job in the best possible way.

"We have a chance now to either become a governing majority or a complaining majority," he said. "I think there will be a significant effort for Republicans to become a party that wants to govern."

He said that as a former member of leadership in the House of Representatives, "one of the values I do bring to the current Senate is a pretty good understanding of how the House works and how important it is that we work toward a conclusion where we have a bill put on the president's desk that is only possible if the House approves it and the Senate approves it."

But some members of his Republican caucus are urging an in-your- face strategy toward President Barack Obama. Led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R- Texas, some want job No. 1 to be repealing the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature legislation. Cruz has said the new GOP majority should use "all means necessary" to repeal the law, and after an expected Obama veto, attack the legislation line by line.

And a group of GOP conservative activists, including the leader of Citizens United the organization whose successful Supreme Court challenge unleashed hundreds of millions of dollars of independent spending in campaigns warned that if Republicans took on other issues, such as jobs creation and tax and energy reform, before going after Obamacare there would be anger on the right. …

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