WASHINGTON – Minnesota’s U.S. House members had lunch today to discuss ways they can work together to improve the state of Minnesota.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison said all eight members of Minnesota’s House delegation sat down and broke bread today.
“We don’t know what we might work on unless we get together and talk about it,” Ellison said.
Ellison said the new dean of Minnesota’s delegation, DFL Rep. Collin Peterson called the meeting. He said it’s the first time the delegation got together to talk about issues. Ellison declined to discuss the full details of the meeting but said one main theme was improving the state’s education system.
“There may be some common ground there,” Ellison said. “Everyone knows we have to have an educated populace.”
There’s no guarantee that there will be much gained from these types of meetings. Minnesota’s U.S. House delegation is incredibly diverse. Ellison is the chair of the House Progressive Caucus. GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is chair of the Tea Party Caucus. Those two groups are diametrically opposed on issues of taxes and spending.
But Ellison said he hopes that the group continues to meet on a regular basis and everyone in the room takes risks on issues. He said that can be difficult when every member of the delegation has a base constituency group backing them.
“All of us have our base who rewards and punishes us for what they think we’re doing right or wrong,” Ellison said. “But if all of the rewards are on saying inflammatory stuff to upset the other side and all of the punishments are associated with trying to work with them then it’s going to be difficult to work with them….”
If that occurs, Ellison said it’s unlikely that the delegation will agree on many issues. Even if that’s the case, he joked that the group may still just do lunch and enjoy each other’s company for the next two years.
The group may have to keep an eye on their waistlines. Especially since several of the members will be taking part in a hot dish competition on Wednesday that’s hosted by DFL Sen. Al Franken.