And it’s not just the infrastructure bill that could be at risk if those GOP votes don’t appear next week, with a group of progressives still warning they will block the bill without further concessions. on a broader partisan spending program. The problem-solver caucus itself faces a critical test of survival in the messy ground fight over the Biden deal. And there could hardly be a more egregious example of the group’s mission than a road and bridge finance bill blessed by both the Democratic president and the GOP leader in the Senate.
“This bipartisan infrastructure bill was essentially a product of Problem Solvers,” said Representative Tom Malinowski (DN.J.), a member of the coalition urging their colleagues to support the bill. “It would not be an argument in favor of bipartisanship for Republicans who are part of it. [bill] to turn your back on him now.
About 10 Republicans are expected to vote for the infrastructure deal, almost all of them Problem Solvers, according to lawmakers on both sides who maintain an informal count of whips. But this precise number remains in motion amid uncertain democratic dynamics.
Rep. John Katko (RN.Y.) expressed his decision to vote bluntly yes: “I helped write it.”
While a small corner of the GOP is eager to prove that cross-aisle cooperation is alive and well, it’s a complicated vote for many moderate Republicans in the House, who are under intense pressure from the leaders of the House. party not to secure a victory for Biden – and potentially hurt their chances of toppling the House. One of those Republicans called the flogging of parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy “strong.”
“From a caucus perspective, we’re going to be there. Not everyone, but we’re going to have significant representation. And that’s a good thing,” said Rep. Tom Reed (RN.Y.), co- founder-chairman of the group. “Basically, this is a fairly solid bill.
Supporting problem-solving Republicans or other members would mean challenging the party leadership, which has formally spoken out against the bill. McCarthy told reporters Thursday that he no longer “sees it as a bipartisan bill” and that he would urge his members to vote against it due to Democrats’ plans to couple it with the broader social spending plan.
The group’s two co-chairs, Reps Josh Gottheimer (DN.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Did their own backstage whip, encouraging as many of their 29 GOP members to vote for the bill as possible. .
That was the main topic of a lengthy group meeting earlier this week, where several Democrats in the room introduced their GOP colleagues. Many have stressed not only the importance of the bill, but also the role of bipartisanship as a whole in a year that has seen relations between Republicans and Democrats hit rock bottom.
Even after the dark days following January 6, when lawmakers from opposing parties were about to be at open war with each other, Problem Solvers members were determined to show progress towards legislation like the infrastructure. Over the spring and summer, the group’s leaders became involved in the infrastructure discussion with the White House and the Senses. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and others.
These groups met both informally and formally on the subject for months, including a nighttime summit at Governor Larry Hogan’s mansion in Maryland. They took the partnership so seriously that when Democratic leaders began to formally tie infrastructure to their party’s partisan bill, House GOP lawmakers went livid and some members of Problem Solvers contemplated in private. to leave the group. None ultimately did.
Problem solvers have already dealt with many issues that have divided the caucus. One of the toughest votes in the group’s history came earlier this year, when the House voted on whether to create an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurgency.
One of the group’s members, Katko, has reached a compromise with the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) By the end of the year.
But former President Donald Trump intervened and McCarthy ultimately recommended his caucus vote against, publicly abandoning Katko and inflaming many moderates in his conference. Thirty-five Republicans ultimately resisted the party to vote for the commission, 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 this committee vote.
It’s not just GOP Problem Solvers members signaling that they will likely vote for the bill. Northeastern Republicans such as Reps Nicole Malliotakis (NY) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ) have both told POLITICO they are inclined to support him.
“It’s like all other bills. There are good things and not so good things. And you have to balance that with your district and see what would be the best vote, ”Malliotakis said in an interview.
Still, Fitzpatrick warned that GOP dynamics could change dramatically by then, with Democratic leaders now aiming to put both infrastructure and the spending bill wider next week.
“The decision of so many people depends on how the process unfolds,” Fitzpatrick said. “There are a lot of people supporting the infrastructure, who may not be in love with the bill, but they agree. But they don’t want anything to do with the $ 3.5 trillion.
Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.