Tonawanda News

Columns

April 14, 2013

DUVALL: Spring thaw in Washington noted on Capitol Hill

Tonawanda News — Is there a detente in Washington between the Hatfields and McCoys?

After years of partisan bickering preventing almost anything from getting done there’s been a slew of news suggesting the wave of discontent may have crested.

In an Associated Press report describing a bipartisan breakthrough on gun control in the Senate in Thursday’s paper there was this laundry list of feel-good vibes:

• Negotiators for the two parties said they had reached agreement on the major elements of a Senate immigration bill they’re expected to unveil next week.

• The top Republican in government, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, publicly disagreed with his party campaign chairman’s criticism of Obama’s budget proposal to trim future Social Security and Medicare benefits. Wednesday night, GOP senators left a White House dinner praising Obama for reaching out to them on his budget.

• Senators of both parties had a rare joint luncheon to honor Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, on the 40th anniversary of his release from a North Vietnamese prison.

Next thing you know they’ll all be holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.”

What led to these breakthroughs? Well, in one instance it’s a political calculus. In another, it’s a brave turn by families sharing their immense pain and grief — and a few lawmakers willing to listen rather than bloviate.

It is no secret by now the Republican party has a serious problem with Latino voters. They’re on the verge of becoming a solidly Democratic demographic alongside blacks. Fewer than 1 in 4 Latinos voted for Mitt Romney last year.

If Republicans are to be anything more than a party that appeals to aging rural white voters they have to do something to address their Latino problem.

That starts with dropping opposition to comprehensive immigration reform — despite the most conservative elements of the party still urging for a shadow border war and deportation of all people living in America illegally. 

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