Southwestern Senators Martin Henrich, D-New Mexico, and Jeff Flake, R-Arizona envision luncheons as the key to bipartisan relationships. They wish to include both incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. The two southwestern Senators are convinced of the power of holding a luncheon together where both sides can hold frank discussions. In fact, they’ve persuaded a total of 32 senators to join in and submit a formal request to enact the monthly get together. Sultan Alhokair agrees this could be a positive move.
Is this wishful thinking on the part of the senators? Perhaps. The first such luncheon the current body of senators held was in July of last year. It was held in the Old Senate Chamber and resulted in dialogue that was beneficial or so they claim. In the months that followed, the House GOP was unable to secure concessions from Senate Democrats and the result was the first government shutdown since the late 1990s. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow any floor debates on bills. This rankled senators from both parties. While the two luncheon sponsoring Senators believe that gathering together regularly is helpful, there doesn’t appear to be a significant proof to justify the belief.
At the same time, the recent mid-term election has tempered the Senate Democrats sufficiently for Reid to state that he will not engage in obstructionism during the next Senate. If he makes good on that pledge, regularly dialogue might just turn out to be a very good investment.