Republican Rep. Tom Reed is temperamentally the opposite of President Donald Trump. Where Trump is brash and vocal, Reed is low key. Where Trump embraces political trench fighting, Reed has emphasized commonality.
The Washington under Joe Biden may be more to Reed's personality and his approach to governing. The new Congress will be far more narrowly divided: Democrats are expected to hold a thin majority in the House of Representatives; the Senate could be split 50-50.
This could be a recipe for gridlock and the incentives for partisanship are unlikely to melt away after an election. But Reed sees an opportunity here for his Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of about 50 or so lawmakers, to play a major role.
"We're going to work with the vice president, President-elect Joe Biden, to hold him to his offer to try to find bipartisan solutions to America's problems," Reed said in an interview. "That's what the Problem Solvers Caucus is all about. We're in a position, the 50 of us, with only a 10-seat majority in the House, to be highly influential."
Reed was first elected in 2010, and with the retirement of Long Island Republican Peter King at the end of the year, he will be the longest serving Republican member of Congress from the New York delegation. He represents a district that stretches along New York's border with Pennsylvania in the Southern Tier region to western New York.
It's an area of the state that has struggled economically for generations. It's also Trump country in New York. And now with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state and across the country, the economy could suffer even further.
So what's Congress going to do about it? Reed expects work to aid those who continue to be unemployed because of the pandemic and support for the airline and restaurant industries that have been badly battered during the pandemic.
Infrastructure projects could also provide an infusion of spending for an region's economy and create jobs through a multiplier effect and something that could give Biden an early win as president.
But a stimulus package for state government, which hemorrhaged tax revenue and has opened up a multi-billion dollar budget gap, may still be more difficult to get through. Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell could remain majority leader of the Senate depending on how a pair of Georgia run-off elections goes in the coming weeks.
Reed has been supportive of state aid, which would plug the budget gap as well as help municipal governments and school districts.
"We're looking at a very small bill being agreed to," Reed said. "You'll still have to negotiate with Mitch McConnell after the lame-duck session. I'll tell you it doesn't look good for a sizeable aid package going to Albany."
He is not getting caught up in the drama over whether Trump will concede to Biden. Acknowledging Trump has the right to file lawsuits; Reed is also clear eyed on reality: Biden won.
He has reportedly been among those being considered by the incoming administration as a potential appointee.
Asked Reed if he would join the Biden administration if asked by the president-elect, Reed didn't say yes or no.
"Obviously we would look at those offers and consider them," he said. "It is the president of the United States and I have high regard for that office, but at the same time I'm a proud Republican and I'm willing to work anybody. As long as we put the American people first, my door is always open."