Mar 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Problem Solvers Caucus on rocky ground since McCarthy's ouster

(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Problem Solvers Caucus co-chairs Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), left, and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.). Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Republicans in the House Problem Solvers Caucus are accusing their Democratic counterparts of failing to take hard bipartisan votes.

Why it matters: Multiple members said the full group hasn't met in months and talks have dwindled after a heated meeting ahead of the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last fall.

  • The group — 32 Democratic and 32 Republican centrists — was created in 2017 in an effort to get members to work together to get bipartisan proposals over the finish line.
  • One member told Axios that the "Problem Solvers should have come to buy time to protect the institution. We haven't met since" McCarthy was ousted in October.
  • "There is some disappointment over Republicans consistently crossing the aisle to Democrat initiatives that we think are good for the country but haven't gotten that reciprocation," Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) told Axios.

Zoom in: Members are hoping to rework the group's rules to make sure there is some accountability that members are pursuing the group's mission. The full caucus hasn't met since October, but smaller task forces have been meeting and endorsing bipartisan bills.

  • "If you can't agree that bipartisanship is a two way street, a 50/50 relationship, then you shouldn't be part of it," another member said.
  • "I think you set standards using some metric that says listen, in order to stay here, you have to at least do something that proves that you're willing to solve problems and get rid of the people who are just there for show," a third lawmaker said.

What they're saying: While McCarthy's ouster brought things to a head, members said there have long been frustrations over their willingness to cross party lines more often.

  • GOP members pointed to statistics showing Republicans broke with their leadership by a significantly higher percent than Democrats, noting the heat they came under fire for supporting bills like the bipartisan infrastructure package.
  • All these problems we're having like right now like Ukraine funding on death's doorstep, you can trace it right back to that — this would not be a problem if Kevin were here," they added.
  • Despite talk of Republicans weighing leaving the group, several members said they believe their mission is too important to disband, particularly at a time where pragmatic lawmakers have seen their numbers drop in Congress.
  • "There is a need for its existence, there is a need for a cleansing," one lawmaker told Axios.
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