What to Know in Washington: Senate’s Ex-Governors Caucus Grows
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In the 118th Congress, there are 14 former governors in the Senate — the most in a generation — who hope to leverage their state chief executive experience to forge bipartisan deals amid divided government in Washington, where compromise is often frustratingly elusive.
Their negotiating skills will likely be called on in the coming months as Congress tackles nettlesome issues including raising the debt limit and proposals for entitlement changes, renewing farm programs, and passing spending bills.
“You’ve made executive decisions, you take it more seriously and you’ve had to be bipartisan in the way that you approach things,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told Bloomberg Government on former governors’ impact on the legislative process. “I think that bodes well for our country.”
Former governors have played key roles in securing recent deals on infrastructure, same-sex marriage, and the national debt. Governors-turned-senators say their legislating is better informed by their time enacting federal mandates like Medicaid, managing a balanced state budget, or serving as commander-in-chief of their state’s National Guard.
“Governors tend to be pragmatic,” said Sen. Pete Ricketts (R), who was Nebraska governor from 2015 to 2023 before being sworn in to the Senate last month. “We have our principles, but we also know that we want to get things done.”
Ricketts’s appointment to the Senate after the resignation of Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) last month brought the total number of former governors to its highest level since the 104th Congress (1995-97), according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government.
Read more from Zach C. Cohen and Greg Giroux: Senate’s Ex-Governors Use Statehouse Experience to Broker Deals
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