Problem Solvers Caucus

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Problem
Solvers Caucus
Co-ChairsJosh Gottheimer (D)
Tom Reed (R)
FoundedJanuary 23, 2017; 2 years ago (2017-01-23)
IdeologyCentrism[1]
Bipartisanship[2]
Big tent[3]
Political positionCenter[4]
Colors     Red and      Blue
Seats in House Democratic Caucus
24 / 235
Seats in House Republican Caucus
24 / 197
Seats in the House
48 / 435
Website
www.nolabels.org/psc
Problem Solvers Caucus in the 116th United States Congress.
  Democratic Problem Solvers caucus member
  Republican Problem Solvers caucus member

The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bi-partisan group in the United States House of Representatives that includes approximately 48 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who seek to create bi-partisan cooperation on key policy issues. Created in January 2017, the group is currently co-chaired by Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY).[5]

Formation[edit]

Writing in the New York Times about the formation of the Caucus, Reed and Gottheimer said: "We all knew the partisanship in Washington had gotten out of control and felt the need to create a bipartisan group committed to getting to "yes" on important issues. We have agreed to vote together for any policy proposal that garners the support of 75 percent of the entire Problem Solvers Caucus, as well as 51 percent of both the Democrats and Republicans in the caucus."[6] The Problem Solvers Caucus developed over time as an outgrowth of informal meetings organized by the political reform group No Labels.

Reform packages[edit]

Past successes by the group include the introduction of nine bipartisan bills to reduce government waste and inefficiency and the passage of the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013.[7]

The Caucus's key success to date occurred on July 31, 2017, when its members unified behind a bipartisan health care fix to shore up the nation’s health insurance exchanges and to reduce premiums for individuals, families and small businesses. The Washington Post described the Caucus plan as "a viable bipartisan compromise focused on stabilizing health-care markets rather than enforcing one party's will on the nation." [8]

Aside from its bipartisan health care plan, the House Problem Solvers Caucus has aligned several times on votes and on policy including:

  • Supported and voted into law a “clean” continuing resolution—free of any ideological riders—to avert a government shutdown (April 2017) [9]
  • Released a comprehensive bipartisan proposal to rebuild American infrastructure (January 2018) [10]
  • Released the first bipartisan immigration proposal in the House; pairing a long-term solution for The Dreamers with investments in border security (January 2018) [11]
  • Supported the long-term budget deal that averted another government shutdown and could not have passed without the Problem Solvers’ bipartisan votes (February 2018)

The Caucus is also building a bipartisan bridge into the Senate. Its members have been attending regular bipartisan, bicameral meetings hosted by No Labels that feature No Labels' honorary co-chairs Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and several of their Senate colleagues. [12]

On July 25, the Problem Solvers Caucus released its Break the Gridlock reform package, featuring proposed rules changes the group said would “reward openness and transparency, encourage a willingness to reach across the aisle, create debate on divisive issues, and empower lawmakers to find real solutions concerning our nation’s most pressing matters.” [13]

In a subsequent statement about Break the Gridlock, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said, “The Rules changes unveiled today by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus represent an important effort to ensure that the House can work its will and serve the American people effectively…It is critical that Members are empowered to bring legislation forward and have their bills considered under regular order, and we ought to return to a process where major legislation is shaped by Members in committee and not behind closed doors by a select few.” [14]

Media coverage[edit]

According to liberal critics, the Problem Solvers are "a thin veneer of bipartisanship that clouds rather than clarifies the stakes of the 2018 midterm elections," that "vulnerable incumbents can tout without accomplishing much." Some Democrats say that it gives political cover to conservative lawmakers, while they vote to support Trump. Members of the Problem Solvers actually rank low in bipartisanship, according to rankings from liberal-leaning websites. Liberals say that Republicans can use it to say, "Look, I'm working across the aisle," even when it doesn't accomplish anything, according to their Democratic opponents. Some Republican members of the Problem Solvers voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and for Trump's tax reform.[15]

The Problem Solvers opposed Nancy Pelosi's speakership unless she met certain demands. According to the Washington Post "The problem-solvers and their backers at centrist advocacy group No Labels took left-wing heat for facing down Ms. Pelosi. Similarly, Rep. Tom Reed (N.Y.), a Republican problem-solver, faced backlash from his party after he pledged to vote for the Democratic rules package[16]. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "9 Dems are choosing to hold the entire 220+ caucus hostage if we don’t accept their GOP-friendly rules that will hamstring healthcare efforts from the get-go."[17] Yet both Democrats and Republicans in the Problem Solvers Caucus had long ago — before they knew which party would be in the majority — pledged to press the next speaker-to-be for reforms that might tamp down partisanship. Neither side should have been surprised, let alone upset." [18]

Mark Pocan, a former caucus member and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a left-leaning organization, says he was "duped" by No Labels and the PSC, saying that rather than "breaking gridlock", it is "a fast track for special interests and lobbyists."[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nilsen, Ella (November 26, 2018). "Nancy Pelosi's Problem Solvers Caucus problem, explained". Vox. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  2. ^ Laslo, Matt (April 20, 2019). "U.S. House Democrats say squabbles are healthy sign as they move past 100 days". WHYY-TV. NPR. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  3. ^ Cannon, Carl M. (March 25, 2018). "Tiny Tent Political Parties". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  4. ^ "Centrist lawmakers band together to demand House reforms for the next speaker". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  5. ^ Leaf, Clifton. "Don't Tell a Soul: There's a Secret Bipartisan Health Plan". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  6. ^ Gottheimer, Josh; Reed, Tom (2017-08-04). "Let's Stop the Bickering and Fix the Health Care System". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  7. ^ Clift, Eleanor (2015-04-11). "The Only Bipartisan Game in Town". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  8. ^ Board, Editorial; Board, Editorial (2017-07-31). "Finally, a real plan to fix Obamacare". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  9. ^ CNN, Zachary Cohen,. "Bipartisan group wants clean spending bill". CNN. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  10. ^ Shelbourne, Mallory (2018-01-10). "Bipartisan group of lawmakers offers ideas for infrastructure plan". TheHill. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  11. ^ CNN, Tal Kopan]],. "Bipartisan House group unveils new DACA proposal". CNN. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  12. ^ Reed, Josh Gottheimer and Tom. "Bipartisanship in Washington is actually happening". CNN. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  13. ^ "Problem Solvers Caucus Propose Changes to House Rules to "Break the Gridlock" - Insider NJ". Insider NJ. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  14. ^ "Hoyer Statement on the Problem Solvers Caucus' Proposed House Rules Changes | The Office of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer". www.democraticwhip.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  15. ^ House Problem Solvers Caucus has solved few problems, bipartisan critics allege, By Jeff Stein, Washington Post, November 5, 2018
  16. ^ "The Democratic House wants to reform democracy. It's not a panacea — but it's a start". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ Nancy Pelosi’s Problem Solvers Caucus problem, explained. Democrats from a bipartisan group are the latest faction to make trouble in Pelosi’s bid for speaker. By Ella Nilsen, Vox, Nov 26, 2018
  18. ^ "The Democratic House wants to reform democracy. It's not a panacea — but it's a start". The Washington Post.
  19. ^ Pocan, Rep Mark (2018-12-04). "'No Labels' Needs A Warning Label". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-12-05.