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DeWine, Strickland react to Senate’s shift in power

Since Sen.

Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Since Sen. Jim Jeffords’ decided to leave the Republican party, upsetting the balance of power, predictions abound about the future of the Senate. Although they are not members of the same party, Republican Sen. Mike DeWine and Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland both said compromise is what is needed for the Senate to be productive.

"No matter what the Republican/Democrat ratio is in the Senate – ultimately, bipartisanship is the only way to accomplish things for the American people," DeWine stated in a news release issued May 24.

Strickland said this is true for both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Without cooperation, particularly in the Senate, Strickland said he would expect stalemate and stagnation and that many important tasks will not be accomplished.

The changes in the Senate will not alter DeWine’s strategy, Press Secretary Wes Ervin said. "He is just going to continue to work the way he has for several years now."

DeWine has a history of reaching across the aisle to work with Senate Democrats. In his role as chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Business Rights, and Competition, DeWine has had a successful relationship with Sen. Herbert Kohl, D-Wis., who has been the committee’s ranking minority member, that others have used as a a model of compromise, Ervin said.

DeWine believes the system continues to work, regardless of party politics, Ervin said.

Although Strickland said he believes it is impossible to anticipate all that will result from Jeffords’ party switch and the subsequent changes, he did suggest a few possibilities.

"I really think this change in the Senate will be significant in what legislation is actively brought before committees and to the floor for a vote," Strickland said.

Prescription drug benefits for senior citizens, a patient’s bill of rights and campaign finance reform are issues Strickland said most likely will be addressed soon as a result of the alteration of the balance of power.

These are things Strickland said he believes the American people, including Lawrence County and Southern Ohio residents, would like to see the Congress address.

The changes will not affect Strickland’s relationship with the Senate, he said. As a member of the House of Representatives, Strickland said, his relationship with the Senate primarily has been and will be through DeWine’s and Sen. George V. Voinovich’s offices.

Although it has not affected his political methods, DeWine was surprised when Jeffords announced his party change, Ervin said. The Vermont senator was treated well and not ignored in DeWine’s opinion, Ervin said.