Democratic spokesman: Republican split may create opening
The ideological split among Republicans over whether to plug the budget deficit with so-called one-time money creates an opening that could give Democrats greater influence on the legislative process, Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman Mike Stagg says. "The Democrats are the largest bloc in the House as long as this Jindal/Vitter struggle for control continues," Stagg says. Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to use one-time funds, while U.S. Sen. David Vitter has expressed support for House conservatives who don't. Stagg says how Democrats choose to use that leverage will be up to individual members, not the party. However, a partywide email suggests that Democratic legislators try to extract a commitment from Jindal to hold a special session early in the 2013 fiscal year to review tax breaks, in hopes of finding new revenue to offset future cuts, in return for their votes for his budget in this session. Joshua Stockley, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, says the split doesn't necessarily give the entire Democratic caucus any more power, but it could create opportunities for individual Democrats to trade votes on specific issues. Stockley and other political scientists say the recent disputes among Louisiana Republicans reflect the fact that the party, as it has grown larger, has become more ideologically diverse. —David Jacobs
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