The Senate’s third-ranking Republican sees room for collaboration with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is looking to take the top Democratic spot in the upper chamber.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday that he is hopeful Republicans will be able to work with Democrats under a new leader like Schumer.
In the past two years, fighting between Republicans and Democrats reached a fever pitch, with the GOP filibustering nearly every bill brought to the floor by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who recently announced that his current term in the Senate will be his last. In 2013, Reid, citing the ongoing gridlock, invoked the so-called "nuclear option," making it easier for Democrats, then the majority party in the Senate, to approve the president's executive and judicial nominees.
Republicans criticized that move as hostile and divisive. But under Schumer, the dynamics could change, Thune indicated on Wednesday.
“I think he's a guy that we can do business with,” Thune said. “And so I have hopes.”
Thune added that Schumer is a guy “who likes to get things done. He likes to make deals.”
Thune’s comments signal willingness on the GOP side to work with Schumer, who appears poised to become the Senate's next Democratic leader. Schumer nailed down overwhelming support within hours of Reid’s announcement last week that he will not run for re-election in 2016.
Schumer has gained support from key Senate Democrats Dick Durbin (Ill.), the minority whip, and Patty Murray (Wash.).
Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, has said he supports Schumer’s bid for leader, and will run to remain whip in 2016.
The leadership shuffle has shaken up the relationship between Schumer and Durbin, however. Last week, Durbin said that Schumer promised to support him as whip, but Schumer’s office confirmed a Politico report that the endorsement never happened.
The apparent tiff creates an early rift in the leadership races, which won’t take place for another 22 months.