A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday offered themselves up as the “antidote” to a bitterly divided Washington and pledged to continue to pass meaningful legislation after the impeachment saga.
Several moderate Democrats who are members of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus were eager to put their impeachment votes behind them and called for a renewed sense of bipartisanship. They described the historic and partisan fight that ended last week as a low point on Capitol Hill.
“I think impeachment — sometimes you’ve got to hit rock bottom until you can build yourself up,” said freshman Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who picked off a GOP incumbent to take office in 2019. “And this may be a blessing in disguise. It put us through the most tormenting period of our — at least my young career here in Congress, and many others would share the same [sentiment].”
Phillips said the low point of impeachment can spark new opportunities for level-headed Republicans and Democrats to unite. “I think it’s going to bring us together, and we’re going to further recognize, absent people like us sitting down together, nothing’s going to get done.”
The Problem Solvers Caucus has 48 members in the House — equally divided between Democrats and Republicans — and work on bipartisan issues to get through the Congress. In an upbeat press conference Tuesday, the members hugged each other often and described their hour-long meetings each week as a respite from a partisan D.C.
“I think in these times, people are desperate to know that there are still people who are working on governing,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin, another swing-district Democrat from Michigan.
The Problem Solvers Caucus got House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to adopt a rule to break up gridlock and allow legislation with at least 290 co-sponsors, or two-thirds of the House, to get fast-tracked for a vote.
Among the wins they counted this Congress are the repeal of the “Cadillac Tax” on health care plans, the passage of legislation to get service animals to veterans, bipartisan reforms on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and Tuesday’s passage of legislation to begin a Women’s History Smithsonian museum on the National Mall.
Their next step will be identifying legislation that already passed the Senate and getting it through the House.
Another swing-district freshman Democrat, Rep. Ben McAdams from Utah, said the caucus “gives hope to fixing a broken Washington.”
The moderate Democrats who won in critical swing districts around the country were the reason Pelosi became speaker again. Now, with their tough votes to impeach in districts that tend to favor President Trump, Republicans are seeking to make them one-term reps.
McAdams pushed back about his perilous reelection status.
“If you look in the dictionary under optimism, it says Utah Democrat,” said McAdams, the only Utah Democrat in Congress.
The group of moderate lawmakers made a plea to voters to reward them for working across party lines and billed themselves at the last best hope in a divided Washington.
“We are the antidote,” Phillips said.
“We need all of you around the country — Democrats, Republicans, libertarians, independents — to send people here that are willing to sit down at the table,” Phillps added. “For if we do not do so, nobody will, and then all will be lost.”