Problem Solvers Caucus Propose Changes to House Rules to “Break the Gridlock”

Jul 25, 2018

Today, members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus introduced a package of changes to the House Rules to make Congress work for the American people. The proposed rule changes reward openness and transparency, encourage a willingness to reach across the aisle, create debate on divisive issues, and empower lawmakers to find real solutions concerning our nation’s most pressing matters.

The package includes — among others — proposals to give fast-track priority consideration to bipartisan legislation and guarantees markups on bipartisan legislation from every Member of Congress.

To encourage consensus driven governing, the package would also replace the current “Motion to Vacate the Chair.”

The full list of goals and proposals in “Break the Gridlock” can be found HERE.

The Problem Solvers Caucus plans to work with other House Caucuses in the coming weeks to collaborate and help build consensus around House rules changes ahead of the next Congress.

For nearly two years, the 48 Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus have worked together finding bipartisan agreement on the toughest issues facing Congress. The Caucus proposed a health care compromise to help stabilize the individual marketplace; an agreement on our nation’s DREAMERs and border security; support for gun and school safety legislation, and recommendations for a bipartisan infrastructure package.

However, their progress and bipartisan cooperation has often faced large obstacles for passage because of House Rules that enable a few Members to prevent bipartisan ideas from being brought to the House Floor.

“We care about reforming the institution, so that Congress is actually able to get things done for the people back home,” said Caucus Co-Chair Representative Tom Reed (R-NY). “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.”

“We’ve seen time and again how our common sense solutions get jammed up in a system built to empower the voices of a few extremists. Instead of letting obstructionists create roadblocks to bipartisan consensus, the American people deserve action on everything from infrastructure to immigration. These changes will pave the way to the House floor for bipartisan solutions and break the gridlock,” said Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

“There is simply too much power in too few hands with too little getting done in Congress,” Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) said. “There are strong bipartisan majorities supporting solutions on issues from healthcare to immigration. We need to change the rules to have an open process to vote on them.”

“The public wants Congress to ‘Get it Done’ and solve problems. To break the gridlock, our bipartisan group is proposing a set of rule changes that will give every member of Congress a voice to help get things done!” said Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY).

“Our Founders warned of the dangerous effect two polarizing factions would have on our government,” Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) said. “From my work on some of the most urgent and challenging issues facing our society, like immigration reform and gun safety, I’ve seen firsthand how partisanship and polarization continue to be the enemy of consensus and progress. We need our Institutions to encourage more Members of Congress to be willing to partake in a third-way faction – one that values consensus, problem-solving and solutions-oriented debate.

“Without it, perfect will continue to be the enemy of the good and solutions to these challenges will continue to remain politically elusive,” Curbelo concluded.

“I am proud to support these bipartisan proposals to get Congress – and democracy – back to working for the American people. By requiring that more amendments and more bipartisan bills be allowed to come to the House floor for debate and votes, we can help ensure that the issues that are important to the American people get addressed by the whole House of Representatives,” said Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT).

“The current rules that govern the legislative process in Washington are completely broken, which has manifested itself in a Congress that broken,” Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) said. “The hyper-partisan, Hatfield versus McCoy mentality in Washington DC must end, and I will make it my life’s mission to systemically change the way business is done (and not done) in Congress. The “Break the Gridlock” Rules package that we are unveiling today is the solution to the problem.

“We can and must bring bipartisanship and consensus building back to the People of the United States of America. The time is now for leaders to stand up and be leaders, to throw party labels in the trash can and start viewing those who think differently than us as strengths to be harnessed, not weaknesses to be criticized. Our diversity as Americans, including our diversity in thought, must be mutually respected and fully utilized to generate the most effective solutions to the serious problems that we face. We will rise to this challenge and fight like hell to get this done for our great Nation. And we will not stop until this is accomplished,” Fitzpatrick concluded.

Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) said, “Throughout my tenure in Congress, my goal as a legislator has been to work towards getting to a ‘yes’ on legislation, not a ‘no.’ That requires working with a variety of ideologies to find solutions that will help everyone, not just a small, radical few. Unfortunately, also throughout my tenure, I’ve seen what happens when you have lacking and poor leadership that seeks to divide rather than unite. It is time for the rank-and-file membership to take back control of Congress so the American people are actually represented. Our proposals laid out today will amend the way we operate here in the House to help turn the wheel back and put us on a path to finding ‘yeses’ and coming up with actual solutions to the problems that our constituents, our communities, and our economy are facing across the country.”

“I believe deeply in bipartisan cooperation and that the best, most effective government is from the center-out,” Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ) said. “These reforms will strengthen that process.”

“I’ve long said the House is a fixer-upper. This bipartisan plan starts the renovation process,” Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) said. “The American people deserve a functioning Congress where they have a say and things get done. To do that, Congress needs to fix the broken systems that currently produce too much partisan gridlock and too few results. It needs to have real debate and real opportunities for bipartisan consensus. This plan is a great first step.”

“It’s time to make Washington more accountable to the American people,” Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) said. “With this new bipartisan package in place, we can finally do what we’ve been sent to Washington to do: Fix problems. Whether it’s reforming our broken immigration system, finding common-ground on gun and school safety laws, fixing the health care mess, and more.

“As chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I changed the rules to encourage more bipartisanship. It worked. 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. We welcome all who want to join us in that effort,” Upton concluded.

“The public has lost faith in Congress’ ability to govern and this proposal to create a fairer and more collaborative process for bringing legislation to the floor is essential to rebuilding that trust,” said Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA). “The current House rules promote extreme partisanship, often forcing the Speaker to placate the minority opinions from their own party to keep his or her job. We must adopt rules that encourage us to work together, to get things done and vote on policy that improves the lives of the American people.”

“Since coming to Congress, I have always advocated for bipartisan, commonsense solutions. The package of changes to the House Rules that the Problem Solvers Caucus introduced today will propose openness and transparency, encourage bipartisan efforts, create constructive debate on certain issues, and empower our lawmakers to find real solutions to the issues we face today. We must work together in order to deliver real results for the hardworking men and women across America.” said Representative Dave Trott (R-MI).

“Washington is painfully out of touch with the needs of those living in Arizona and across the country. It is clear that the American people’s voices are being drowned out by hyper-partisan politics and special interests. We are working to fix the problem and change the broken system that rewards political ideology and gridlock over commonsense legislating that solves the pressing issues our nation faces,” said Representative Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ).

“Every new Member of Congress, Democrat and Republican, comes to Washington with good ideas and a desire to make government work better for people. Closed rules smother good ideas, cut off debate, prevent us from finding areas of agreement, and substitute political posturing for problem solving. In other words, process matters. When Regular Order breaks down and amendments that would likely pass with solid bipartisan support can’t even be considered, important bills fail and gridlock worsens. It’s time to change the way we do politics, and restore people’s confidence in our great American democracy. That’s why I support the “Break the Gridlock” bipartisan changes to House Rules to get Congress back to work on the people’s business,” said Representative Rick Nolan (D-MN).

“Our Constitution empowered the American people by empowering Congress and their representatives. But congressional rules are now rigged in a way that greatly diminishes the power of the peoples’ representatives. Our proposed reforms will begin to restore this power, break partisan gridlock, and facilitate congressional problem solving that will benefit the American people,” said Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL).

“The American people are sick of partisan gridlock in Congress, and they want their leaders to work together to help their families, not for them to focus on scoring political points at the expense of getting important things done. I’m proud to stand with my fellow Problem Solvers to present these proposals to help fix Washington by changing the way it operates,” said Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).

“San Diegans are rightly frustrated with a gridlocked Congress and it’s time to get our government working again. Enduring legislation has to be bipartisan. That means crafting and debating bills with transparency and collaboration—even on contentious issues. We may not always agree, but we have to work together to get real solutions for the American people,” said Representative Scott Peters (D-CA).

“As a founding member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, this proposal is a great opportunity to get Congress working again,” said Representative Ami Bera (D-CA). “Right now, Washington is broken. We know it and the American people know it. We need to come together as Democrats and Republicans and move forward. These proposals are a strong starting point that empower members to do the work we were sent here to accomplish.”

“My constituents want results from Washington and a Congress that works on their behalf. They’ve said it loud and clear: enough with the gridlock. This bipartisan proposal puts forward solutions to encourage consensus-driven governing, foster accountability, and empower those working to solve problems instead of the ideological extremes,” said Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL).

“The majority of Americans have made their views clear: It is time to fix this broken Congress. We in the Problem Solvers could not agree more, which is why we came together to propose this package of House reforms. It is a significant and serious step aimed at ensuring that the House is more bipartisan, less gridlocked, and more representative of the American people,” said Representative Jim Costa (D-CA).

“I believe this proposal for changes to House rules would help encourage more bipartisan cooperation, support efforts to find consensus on tough issues, and help us break the gridlock that is gripping Washington,” said Representative Rosen (D-NV). “I’ve made it a priority to reach across the aisle on issues where both parties can find common ground, and I’m proud to support this new plan to force Congress to start working again on real solutions for the American people.”

The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members of Congress who believe in attacking problems not people. The group meets once a week to talk about the most contentious issues facing our country today and listens to the views of both sides as to how to fix them.

The Caucus is co-chaired by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

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