House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) tells WABE reporter Denis O’Hayer that her view on bipartisan action includes “compromise” with the majority party.
The following transcript is part of a longer interview:
WABE Reporter Denis O’Hayer: In talking about military families and in talking about kinship care, you’ve touched on two issues where you can expect bipartisan support, if not in the details at least in the principle, what would you say to Democrats who say, “Look, you’re working with Republicans on apple pie issues and you are not taking a stand on the big issues that matter so much to Democrats, particularly minority Democrats”?
House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta): I would say that taking care of our children, taking care of our military families, taking care of education, expanding Medicaid, these are issues that may begin with a Democratic conversation, but they affect every person. People of color are most likely going to be members of the military. We found with kinship care that it’s actually multi-racial, but more than that, being a Democrat is about doing what’s best for the people and trying our best to make sure government is serving their needs and creating opportunities for them to take care of themselves, that’s why we’re Democrats. But as a legislator, the reality is that, I have 61 members out of 180, nothing happens without bipartisan support, and anyone who tells you differently is selling you something, and so my mission is to always lead our caucus in a way that encourages bipartisan support, because that means we’re doing what’s right for everyone. It may start with a Democratic ethos, but it has to be a bipartisan approach because that’s the way we get things done, and that’s why I’m here, to get things done.
WABE: But as leader of the caucus, isn’t part of your job not just to be the working-across-the-aisle to get things done, but the planting-the-flag to get things done on the things that core Democrats believe?
Abrams: Our core Democratic principles are educational opportunity, economic security, and shared responsibility. Every bill that we offer, every position we take is driven by achieving those ends. When we can work together to actually get things done, that’s my first responsibility, because Democrats don’t care how you get it done, they want their lives to improve, and that’s what we have to do, that’s why they elect us. But there are also core issues and core values that we have to stand for, issues like RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), we will be front and center in pushing back against any attempt at discrimination.
We will be working incredibly hard, again on Medicaid expansion, because these families believe that they should have access to healthcare, and that may begin with Democrats, but it should not end there.
My mission, our mission should not simply be to beat the other side, it’s to offer compromise and work together where we can, compete where we should, but always hold ourselves accountable for serving the needs of the constituents we stand for, and that has to be how I live and how I do this job.