Shutdown A Big Test For Problem Solvers Caucus

If there was ever a time for the Problem Solvers Caucus to shine, this is it.

The shutdown of the federal government is now in its second week after the House of Representatives and the Senate were unable to come to an agreement over the budget legislation, with the biggest disagreement coming over $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. The Senate had passed a stopgap bill that would have kept the government operating, but amid criticism from his base, President Donald Trump told House leadership he would veto the stopgap bill if the House approved the same bill the Senate approved. The House included the border wall money in its spending bill, the sides pushed their chairs away from the table and everyone went on a holiday vacation.

On Dec. 19, Reed joined with Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-New Jersey and Problem Solvers Caucus co-chairman, to urge, “leaders on both sides of the aisle to work together, in good faith, and find a solution to keep the government open. Americans expect and deserve much more than more gridlock and more shutdowns.”

The very next day, Reed joined with fellow Republicans in Congress to vote to provide funding for the border wall — something he had to know wouldn’t sit well with the very Democrats with whom Republican members of the Problem Solvers Caucus need to work. That makes us question Reed’s statement that he was “proud to vote to keep our government open for the American people.”

What’s more important — and, we hope, more telling of Reed’s intentions — is this quote from the same news release. “We need a functioning immigration system which allows properly vetted people to come here and work to provide for their families. I hope this is something I can work with my Democrat colleagues on this next Congress.” He reiterated those sentiments during a conference call with regional media outlets earlier this week, including saying “There are areas of the border where truly a wall is the most effective tool. It’s a combination of everything.”

In mid-December, we wrote that the Problem Solvers Caucus had scored a win by working with Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee ranking member Jim McGovern that resulted in rules changes allowing more rank-and-file members of Congress to get legislation voted on while paving the way for Pelosi to ascend to the position of Speaker of the House. That was indeed a nice piece of deal-making for the caucus. Now, it’s time to see if the Problem Solvers’ Caucus is ready to help crack a tougher nut — the controversy over the border wall and, with it, the government shutdown.