WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott is urging today's GOP leaders to co-opt staunchly conservative freshmen if possible and to marginalize the rest in order to ease congressional gridlock.
Lott tells reporters that Republican House and Senate leaders should immediately embrace new members before they can drift toward the right flank dominated by tea party people.
He also says leaders must be forceful in keeping conservative hard-liners from triggering another government shutdown. Lott, who is from Mississippi and was GOP leader a decade ago, calls the 2013 shutdown foolish and disingenuous.
He also says the elimination of earmarked spending projects has robbed congressional leaders of a useful tool to reward and punish rank-and-file lawmakers.
Lott spoke Thursday at a Washington breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.