State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Mr. Dent returns from Washington

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 25, 2013 9:27 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf


A scratchy-voiced Charlie Dent brought his dim view of Congress to Harrisburg this week, leaving room for hope that perhaps his hard-right colleagues are coming around to the ways of governing by compromise.

The Republican congressman became the face of the moderate wing of the GOP in October as he urged his colleagues to act to end the government shutdown, while others insisted they wanted to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Speaking to Capitol reporters and lobbyists at the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday, Dent said "today, Washington is broken," and the brokenness is on display for all to see.

"Recent events in Washington, from the shutdown to the debt ceiling to the inability thus far to rebalance the sequester, to the breakdown of regular order and the deployment of the so-called nuclear option in the Senate, should have a lot of people very angry and frustrated right now," Dent said.

Some political analysts would be quick to point out that the although Republicans who urged a government shutdown received no legislative advantage for doing so, many with solidly GOP districts saw their popularity bolstered as a result of the impasse. And Democrats counter that the so-called nuclear option, or eliminate the use of filibuster in the Senate, was necessary to keep Republicans from blocking the confirmation of presidential appointees as a matter of course.

Dent is saying nothing new in his condemnation of Washington polarization and gridlock. Last week in Harrisburg, the governor's administration compared state lawmakers to those in D.C. to shame them into passing a transportation funding measure.

Dent says for all the insurgent vs. establishment talk when people talk about rifts within the GOP, the tide may be about to turn among congressional Republicans.

"We don't need all these folks talking about ideological purity. The mantra of the party cannot be purity over victory. It has to be victory first. If you want to be able to advance your ideas, you've got to be able to win first," Dent said. "And I think some folks are starting to re-learn that."


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