And it’s not just the infrastructure bill that could be in jeopardy if those GOP votes don’t take the floor next week, with a group of progressives still warning they’ll block the bill without making more concessions to a broader, partisan spending package. The Problem Solvers Caucus itself faces a critical test of survival in the messy floor fight over Biden’s deal. And there could hardly be a more glaring example of the group’s mission than a road and bridge financing bill blessed by both the Democratic president and the Senate GOP leader.
“This bipartisan infrastructure bill was essentially a problem-solver product,” said Deputy Tom Malinowski (DN.J.), a coalition member who strongly urged his colleagues to support the bill. “It wouldn’t be an argument in favor of duality for the Republicans who are part of that.” [bill] to turn its back on it now.”
About 10 Republicans are expected to vote for the infrastructure deal, almost all of them members of Problem Solvers, according to lawmakers in both parties counting an informal whip. But that precise number continues to fluctuate amid uncertain democratic dynamics.
Rep. John Katko (RN.Y.) put his decision to vote yes bluntly: “I helped write it.”
While a small corner of the GOP is eager to prove that cooperation between the aisles is alive and kicking, it’s a complicated vote for many moderate House Republicans, who are under intense pressure from party leaders not to get a win for Biden — and potentially their chance to win. turn the house around. One of those Republicans described House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s whip operation as “strong.”
“From a caucus perspective, we’ll be there. Not everyone, but we’ll have a good show. And that’s a good thing,” said Rep. Tom Reed (RN.Y.), one of the founders – chairman of the group. “Essentially, it’s a pretty solid bill.”
Support from Republican problem-solvers or other members would mean defying the party leadership, which has formally opposed the bill. McCarthy told reporters on Thursday that he “no longer sees it as a bipartisan bill” and would urge members to vote against it over Democrats’ plans to tie it to the larger social spending plan.
The group’s two co-chairs, Representatives Josh Gottheimer (DN.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), have been whipping up their own behind the scenes, encouraging as many of their 29 GOP members as possible to vote. possible for the account.
It was the main topic at a long meeting of the group earlier this week, where several Democrats in the room presented their GOP colleagues. Many stressed not only the importance of the bill, but also the role of bipartisanship in general in a year when relations between Republicans and Democrats were at an all-time low.
Even after the dark days following January 6, as opposing lawmakers approached an open war against the other, Problem Solvers members were determined to show progress toward legislation such as infrastructure. Over the spring and summer, the group’s leaders became involved in the infrastructure discussion with the White House and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and others.
Those groups met informally and formally on the subject for months, including during an overnight summit at the Maryland Governor’s mansion, Larry Hogan. They took the partnership so seriously that when Democratic leaders began formally linking the infrastructure to their party’s partisan law, House GOP lawmakers became enraged and some troubleshooters privately considered leaving the group. In the end, nobody did.
The problem solvers have tackled many problems that previously divided the caucus. One of the toughest votes in the group’s history came earlier this year, when the House voted to create a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the January 6 uprising.
One of the group’s members, Katko, compromised with Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, over a bill to create the independent committee that would power current members of Congress. would have barred from participating in the panel and released a report. at the end of the year.
But former President Donald Trump intervened, and McCarthy eventually advised his caucus to vote against it — publicly abandoning Katko and inciting many of his conference moderates. Thirty-five Republicans ultimately opposed the party from voting for the committee, including 18 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, many of whom said they voted yes to support Katko.
Democrats in the group say they hope the infrastructure vote can get as many Republicans, if not more, than that committee vote.
It’s not just GOP Problem Solvers members who say they’re likely to vote for the bill. Northeastern Republicans like Representatives Nicole Malliotakis (NY) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ) both told Mediafrolic they were inclined to support it.
“It’s just like any other account. There are good things, and less good things. And you have to weigh it up against your district and see what the best vote would be,” Malliotakis said in an interview.
Still, Fitzpatrick warned that the dynamics of the GOP could change dramatically by then, with Democratic leaders now aiming to bring forward both the infrastructure and broader spending bill next week.
“So many people’s decision depends on how the process goes,” Fitzpatrick said. “There are a lot of people who support infrastructure, who may not be in love with the bill, but they’re fine with it. But they don’t want anything to do with the $3.5 trillion.”
Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.