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Moderate Dems send letter pleading with Trump: “we implore you to begin focusing”

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Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), center, is the head of the New Democrat coalition
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Nine of the House’s most moderate Democrats are warning President Donald Trump that he’s becoming impossible to work with.

Ahead of the president’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, leading members of the New Democrat Coalition sent a letter to Trump saying his “acrimonious approach” and “inflammatory rhetoric” were making it more difficult to compromise.

The letter notes that there are multiple policy realms where the New Democrats would theoretically be quite eager to work with Trump, including tax reform, an infrastructure bill, and even improving Obamacare. The letter also makes clear that these Democrats are among the most eager to work with Republicans: “As a group with a track record of seeking bipartisan cooperation, we implore you to begin focusing on these issues,” it says.

But it also highlights that Trump is losing the potential to win Democratic votes on bills that might otherwise reach bipartisan political victory. As the caucus’s chair, Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), argued in an interview with Vox on February 6: "You can work with a quirky, untrained, market-oriented president. … You can't work with a president who is eroding the Constitution. The real problem is if we have a lot more weeks that shock Americans, it's going to close the window for having those technocratic discussions we should be having."

Here’s the full text of the letter:

As you prepare for your address to the Joint Session of Congress, we strongly urge you to stop advancing divisive policies and inflammatory rhetoric and instead focus on policies that will grow the economy, create more opportunity for all, and make government work better.

Last November, Americans across the political spectrum elected leaders to work together to strengthen our economy and increase opportunity for all. Upon your inauguration, despite being in opposition, we were hopeful that you would govern like the "dealmaker" you so adamantly claimed to be, seeking areas of consensus and compromise. Regrettably, since your inauguration, we have heard no specific proposals from you on improving our infrastructure, reforming our tax code, or bettering the Affordable Care Act, all things that you promised before and after the election.

As leaders of the 54 member New Democrat Coalition, a group with a track record of seeking bipartisan cooperation, we implore you to begin focusing on these issues. New Democrats want to work on a bipartisan proposal that would significantly increase investment in and modernize our infrastructure system. We also stand ready to work together to modernize our tax code, improve the Affordable Care Act, and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, the acrimonious approach you have taken to date is decreasing the opportunity for progress on these issues. If you adopt a more focused and conciliatory approach to policymaking, we all can get to work on the job the American people sent us to Washington to do.

Sincerely,

The New Democrat Coalition Leadership Team