Mixed views on the effectiveness of the 'Senate Opportunity Coalition'
A group of Republican senators is going to battle for underserved Americans. Their objective is to address the needs of the millions of Americans living in distressed communities. Not everyone believes in the effectiveness of the group.
"The coalition’s foundation will be apart of the foundation for the success of those folks working paycheck to paycheck throughout the country," said Senator Tim Scott, the founder of the eight-member Senate Opportunity Coalition.
The goal of the group is to listen to their constituents’ problems and use them as fuel for legislation. The senator says he wanted to start with a GOP-only group.
"First we have to, as a party, do a better job of becoming aware and more sensitive to the issues," said Scott. "That’s the new Republican party, and that’s the new approach."
One of Senator Dean Heller’s (R-NV) focuses is an inherently conservative fight; lowering taxes on the middle class in his state.
"The key is to get a blueprint out there of what we feel to be our priorities," said Heller. "We’ll listen to their priorities and bring them together."
Both senators say they expect to bring Democrats on board once the Republicans have laid the groundwork. Some say the coalition is a distraction from policies that they are actually putting in place.
"I think it’s wonderful, if folks want to listen to what’s going on in communities and help craft solutions," said Melissa Boteach, Vice President of the Poverty to Prosperity program at the Center for American Progress. "What I want to underscore is that that’s not a substitute for good jobs, higher wages, and strong social insurance policies that people can turn to when times are tough."
She says the coalition is a good idea, but she wants to see Democrats in the mix.
"You want to be able to build that coalition from the start from a shared understanding of the problems and potentially shared understanding of the solutions," said Boteach. "And by cutting out people who you need to govern alongside with from the start, you know, that can undermine that."
Boteach says she’s not optimistic about the next Congress’s ability to fight poverty. The coalition members say they will craft legislation to prove otherwise.