The Problem Solvers Caucus Has a ProblemCharles P. Pierce Esquire
The Problem Solvers' feckless pursuit of bipartisanship is a guarantee to do nothing.
Whether centrists are willing to withhold their speakership votes from McCarthy on Jan. 3, as some conservatives have indicated, remains to be seen. But it’s not just the more moderate Joyce-led group eyeing ways to have extra influence next year. Even as Washington’s attention after the midterm turns to the Freedom Caucus, members of the Main Street Caucus and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus are talking among themselves about it. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), the Problem Solvers’ co-chiefs, met for dinner last week and talked about possible rules changes to help ensure their roughly 50 members next year are more unified, and therefore more powerful, on the floor next year. Among them: guidelines to endorse only bills that are bipartisan when introduced.
That sounds like a fine way to ensure that no Democratic policies emerge from the House of Representatives. Tough bargainer, that Gottheimer, boy.
“We just want to make the group more accountable ... I mean, the whole point of our group is to stick together on the floor when we endorse bills,” Fitzpatrick said, adding that their ability to coalesce could be “important” given the tight margin. Other factions in the House are already looking to form alliances with the centrist group. Fitzpatrick said he’s been hearing from Freedom Caucus members who want to find common ground with the moderate wing next year, as well as from Democratic senators who are looking for GOP allies in the lower chamber as they weigh their legislative priorities.
(We should pause here to point out that, as near as I can tell, in the five sorry-ass years of its existence, the Problem Solvers Caucus has solved exactly one problem: helping Gottheimer's private equity sugar daddies out with the problems they have with paying taxes.)
I know I'm wasting my time here, but let me say for the benefit of readers who may be just joining American democracy (already in progress): There are no Republican moderates! The party is made up of hard-core conservatives on one hand and, on the other, hard-core conservatives who howl at the freaking moon. Take, for example, the several "moderates" quoted in the Politico piece. This is Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, on the idea of codifying reproductive freedom:
“I stand with life and voted against the extreme federal pro-abortion bill today. It would have led to taxpayer funding of abortions and would remove late term abortion bans among other adopted pro-life laws in place by various states, including overturning Nebraska’s ban on dismemberment abortions which has wide support in our state. I’m grateful for the pro-life women in Nebraska like Deb Fischer and Jean Stothert, as well as those in Congress who spoke out for life today.”
At best, you get mush, like this from Brian Fitzpatrick, the Abbott to Gottheimer's Costello, on the day the Dobbs decision was handed down:
At the core of our democracy must always be the goal of building bridges, not driving wedges. This issue, as sensitive as it is, must be approached in this same manner. With empathy, with understanding, and with compassion. I urge all state legislatures, including in my own state of Pennsylvania, to follow this lead. Support two-party solutions. Reject single-party solutions. Build bridges, don't drive wedges.
Sure, Brian. You know what was a single-party solution? The Freedom To Vote Act, which passed without a single Republican vote, including yours. Want another? The Inflation Reduction Act, passed without a single Republican vote, including yours. OK, one more: the egregious tax cut bill passed by the previous administration? The Republicans rammed that sucker through after playing the so-called "Blue Dog" Democrats for the suckers they are. So you'll have to pardon me for thinking that, when Speaker Whoever cracks the whip, you'll be there for whatever the moon-howlers propose. You all could prove me wrong by refusing to vote to fund any of the useless snipe hunts that are coming along in January. Here's a test, Brian. Your likely future Speaker is howling racism at the moon.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) fired back at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday after he renewed a threat to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for what he characterized as “repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks.” McCarthy, who is angling to become House speaker in January, repeated the vow multiple times over the weekend, including during a television interview and during an appearance before a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. Republicans are poised to claim a narrow House majority in the next Congress.
Ms. Reece would like a word: