Schumer Urges Republicans to Jettison Trump and Work With Democrats

WASHINGTON — Senator Chuck Schumer has a postelection proposition for Republicans: Dump Donald J. Trump and join with Democrats to enact popular legislation.

Fresh off holding the Senate majority in an election sweep that he said could be attributed to Democratic legislative achievements, Mr. Schumer, the majority leader from New York, said he intended to appeal to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and other Republicans to join with Democrats in posting accomplishments, not pursuing a stalemate.

“I’m going to reach out to McConnell and I want to say to the non-MAGA Republicans, ‘Work with us; we want to get some things done here,’” Mr. Schumer said in an interview on Monday in his Capitol leadership suite. “What gives us the opening is that they know embracing Trump and MAGA is a failure. Not all Republicans know it, but a large number do.”

While it is an offer that is likely to be declined in the immediate aftermath of the voting, Mr. Schumer said it was sincere. He did not specify any issue or policy proposal that could be a potential area of cooperation, but Mr. Schumer argued that Democrats’ stronger-than-expected performance in the midterm elections had been a reward from voters for getting bills to President Biden’s desk on issues such as tackling climate change, improving gun safety and lowering prescription drug costs.

To drive home his point, Mr. Schumer conceded that Democrats would have to give some ground to have a realistic chance of reaching compromise with their counterparts across the aisle in the future.

“I’m going to say to my party, ‘We are not going to get everything we want; we’re going to have to compromise,’” he said. “But it is a lot better to accomplish something than to just make a mark.”

Mr. Schumer’s outreach will doubtless provoke skepticism among Republicans who have always seen him as a bare-knuckle fighter, more eager to score political points against Republicans than he is to make the necessary concessions to pass a big, bipartisan bill. But Senate Democratic incumbents who held on to their seats against a Republican onslaught have cited the popularity of legislative initiatives — many of them enacted with at least some degree of G.O.P. backing — that cleared Congress this year. Mr. Schumer, long a partisan tactician, said this election had made him a believer in the power of legislative accomplishment.

Mr. McConnell, taking the floor on Monday as the Senate returned for a lame-duck session, did not seem to be in the mood to link arms with his Democratic counterpart. Skirting the topic of the dismal election showing by Republicans, Mr. McConnell said the results underscored the close political divide in the nation. He said he welcomed the prospect that Republicans would win a very narrow majority in the House.

“It appears the likeliest outcome would mean the American people have put a stop to two years of Democrats’ disastrous one-party government,” he said, calling a Republican-led House “reinforcements” to counter Democratic policies.

“If Washington Democrats do not want to pivot to sanity and common sense,” Mr. McConnell said, “if they will not help us address the ways their policies are hurting families, they will encounter stiff resistance from the sizable Senate Republican conference that half the country elected to be their voice.”

Mr. McConnell this week faces a challenge to his leadership from a small group of Senate Republicans who are pushing to delay a vote set for Wednesday on bringing him back as minority leader. Part of their opposition stems from their contention that Mr. McConnell was too accommodating to Democrats this past year and allowed them to achieve legislative victories that helped their candidates on the campaign trail.

“The Republican leadership caved in on the debt ceiling, caved in on a gun bill, caved in on a fake infrastructure bill, and then we make it difficult for our candidates,” Senator Rick Scott, a Florida Republican who ran his party’s failed effort to gain the Senate majority, said Sunday on Fox News. “We have to start coming together as a caucus, not vote with the Democrats.”

While Mr. McConnell is very likely to survive the leadership fight, such sentiments among his colleagues are likely to slow any close cooperation with the Democrats.

Mr. Schumer said Republicans’ main mistake was in misreading voters and spending most of their time attacking Democrats over the economy and high gas prices — issues that he said had not resonated with voters.

“They were mad about it, but they didn’t blame Democrats as much as Republicans thought they would,” said Mr. Schumer, who said many Americans expressed deeper misgivings about the rise of right-wing election deniers.

“The roots of democracy are deeper than people think,” Mr. Schumer said. “These MAGA Republicans were gnawing at the very essence of democracy itself. When a party says an election doesn’t count, that it is fraudulent, that’s the beginning of the end.”

Mr. Schumer said the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade also propelled Democrats by underscoring how conservative some Republican policies were as some immediately pushed for a nationwide ban on the procedure.

Facing a jam-packed lame-duck session, Mr. Schumer said he intended to make a concerted effort to engage Republicans and predicted that a failure to reciprocate would be politically costly, as was just demonstrated in the midterms.

“The bottom line is, if they don’t have an alternative and MAGA is their whole party, they are going to lose,” he said. “MAGA is a loser.”


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