Bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus pledges to ‘Break the Gridlock’ on Capitol Hill

U.S. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) – all members of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus – on July 25 proposed restructuring House Rules in an effort to end the partisan policy snarls they say are undermining legislative progress in Congress.

The proposed rule changes would support bipartisanship, debate and transparency, the lawmakers said during a press conference to unveil the caucus’ five-page Break the Gridlock reform package.

“We care about reforming the institution so that Congress is actually able to get things done for the people back home,” said Rep. Reed, co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus along with U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

“Due to the House floor being controlled by a select few, most members of Congress are not able to bring their ideas and proposals to the House floor for a fair vote that would allow us to begin solving some of the most contentious issues facing our country today,” Rep. Reed said.

Those issues include immigration reform and gun safety, according to Rep. Curbelo, who said he’s “seen firsthand how partisanship and polarization continues to be the enemy of consensus and progress.”

“We need our institution to encourage more members of Congress to be able to participate in the process -– one that values compromise, problem-solving and solutions-oriented debate,” the Florida lawmaker said. “Without it, the perfect will continue to be the enemy of the good and solutions to these challenges will remain politically elusive.”

The Break the Gridlock package includes numerous proposals that would provide fast-track priority consideration to bipartisan legislation and would ensure markups on bipartisan bills from all congressional members, according to the congressmen.

Additionally, the reforms would modify the current “Motion to Vacate the Chair” rule to boost consensus-driven governing, they said, adding that the Problem Solvers Caucus plans to collaborate with other House caucuses around building consensus on House Rules changes before the next Congress convenes in January 2019.

For almost two years, the 48 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus have forged bipartisan agreement on numerous policy issues, though their progress and cooperation many times stalled because of House Rules that have permitted a few members to hold most of the power, according to the reforms package.

“It’s time to make Washington more accountable to the American people. With this new bipartisan package in place, we can finally do what we’ve been sent to Washington to do: Fix problems,” said Rep. Upton, who served as chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee from 2010 to 2016, where he changed the rules to encourage more bipartisanship.

“It worked,” Rep. Upton noted about the reforms. “We passed 354 measures through the House and saw 202 signed into law. Almost all were bipartisan. It’s time for the People’s House to implement some of these same changes so we can break the gridlock and deliver real results for folks at home.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick added that the current House Rules governing the legislative process are completely broken, resulting in a Congress that’s also broken.

“The hyper-partisan, Hatfield-versus-McCoy mentality in Washington, D.C., must end, and I will make it my life’s mission to systematically change the way business is done and not done in Congress,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said during the press conference. “The Break the Gridlock rules package that we are unveiling … is the solution to the problem.”

Other Republican caucus members who signed on to the Break the Gridlock reform package include U.S. Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).