WASHINGTON -- In a Capitol riven by partisan divisions, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, says he thought it might help matters to work across the aisle with his Democratic Hispanic colleagues.
In February, he met with the chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and asked about joining. Eight months later, he's still waiting for an invitation.
"I just don't understand what's so difficult," Curbelo said Wednesday. "They have to decide if this is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus or if it’s the Congressional Hispanic country club for liberals."
It’s a work in progress, insists caucus chair Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat from New Mexico, who joked that his request is “moving far faster than anything that ever happens in Congress.” She called it a “good approach” to start with allowing Curbelo to sit on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a non-profit affiliated organization, before expanding the caucus.
“It’s not true that it’s not happening and it’s also not accurate to say that it’s a done deal,” Lujan Grisham said of allowing Curbelo to join. “The caucus really has to have a discussion because we talk about legislative strategy that can sometimes be partisan.”
She called it a “difficult path,” but said conversations are ongoing with the caucus members.
The caucus at one time included members from both parties, but several Republicans from Florida walked out over differences on Cuba policy and formed their own group. That rift still resonates, though it happened before her tenure, Lujan Grisham said, adding that she fears the group could again get bogged down by partisan squabbling.
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