Senate Democrats may say they’d like to have more cooperation with Republicans, but the prospect of bipartisanship is exactly why they’re worried about the fact that Senator Ron Wyden is about to ascend to a key leadership position.
With Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, set to take over from Max Baucus as Finance Committee chairman next month, Democrats are uneasy about how he’ll use the job. His past eagerness break from the party to collaborate with Republicans on tax and health-care reform — most notably co-sponsoring a Medicare-overhaul plan with Paul Ryan in 2011 — could pose problems within the caucus. “Ron will have to tone down his self-loving love of being different,” a Democratic senator told the Hill.
Ryan is expected to move from the Budget Committee chairmanship to Ways and Means in the next Congress, but Wyden could easily continue his relationship with Ryan in their new positions. The two will have influential roles in tax and entitlement reform, which both parties and chambers have expressed an interest in pursuing.
Democrats are hoping he won’t give them too much “heartburn,” as one strategist put it, but are bracing for his unconventional approach. “It will shake things up,” a Democratic lobbyist predicted.