Apr 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Dems see bipartisan promise in McCarthy's Taiwan meeting

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

House Democrats who attended a GOP-led meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen believe it bodes well for the possibility of bipartisan work in the coming months.

Why it matters: It's a rare moment of cross-party praise for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as he prepares for efforts to fund the government, avert default on U.S. debt and potentially provide more aid to Ukraine.

  • China policy has been one of the few areas in which lawmakers have been able to come together in a House otherwise dominated by partisan fights, Axios' Sophia Cai reported.

Driving the news: Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who rarely has a kind word to say about her successor, lauded the meeting in a statement on Wednesday.

  • “Today’s meeting between President Tsai of Taiwan and Speaker McCarthy is to be commended for its leadership, its bipartisan participation and its distinguished and historic venue," she said.

By the numbers: In addition to 10 House Republicans, a half dozen Democrats joined McCarthy on the CODEL, including House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.).

  • “There are plenty of ways in which Speaker McCarthy has been an incredibly partisan member of Congress, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) told Axios, but the CODEL represents "a genuine effort at bringing Democrats and Republicans together, especially on foreign policy.”
  • Moulton applauded McCarthy's choice to "not take the bait to attack the administration or Democrats" when answering questions at a press conference after the meeting: "He deserves credit for that.”
  • "It was very responsible leadership," said Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) – like Moulton, a China select committee member who joined the CODEL.

Between the lines: Both Moulton and Stevens told Axios they got a chance to interact with colleagues across the aisle and that there was no shortage of camaraderie.

  • "Everything has been really collegial," said Stevens, "I think it's encouraging to the bipartisan work of the [China select] committee ... and things like industrial policy."
  • “It really was bipartisan, not just at the press conference but behind the scenes as well," said Moulton.

Tangent: Moulton said he was one of those lawmakers who received a warning from the Chinese embassy in D.C. not to meet with Tsai Ing-wen.

  • “This is standard playbook. The Chinese Communist Party is all about intimidation and coercion," he said.

What caught our eye: The morning of the meeting, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) released a statement about meeting with Ing-wen in New York the week earlier.

The big picture: Even as they spar publicly, McCarthy is meeting with Jeffries regularly off the House floor – including when McCarthy took the divisive step of removing two Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee.

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