The leaders of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus are ramping up pressure on their leadership in a new effort to bring a series of bills to the House floor that they argue already have bipartisan backing and could help bolster incumbents ahead of the midterm elections from attacks that Congress isn’t working.
In their plan, Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania call on their leadership to move ahead on seven areas, including an energy plan aimed at helping to lower gas prices, legislation to invest in law enforcement, a bill to support veterans’ mental health, lower prescription drug costs and invest in cancer research, and a more controversial push to block the administration on a key immigration decision.
It’s the latest example of members running for reelection in some of the toughest districts in the country trying to get major legislation across the finish line before the politics of the midterm election year overshadow what’s possible on the floor. It also comes as efforts to resurrect a Democratic-only package on energy, taxes and prescription drugs seem tenuous at best in the US Senate.
“We need to focus on commonsense, bipartisan action that can actually get done and bring folks together,” Gottheimer said. “That’s what I hear from folks back home. These are all areas where both sides can come together and actually get stuff done.”
The areas include several bipartisan pieces of legislation that members have already worked together on, bills that Gottheimer argues would have a good chance of passing of only they were to come to the floor for a vote.
The members also call on leadership to move swiftly to block the administration’s decision to end Title 42 on May 23, a flashpoint between some Democrats on Capitol Hill and the administration. The Trump-era immigration order, which has been used under former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, has allowed border officials to swiftly send migrants back to their home countries, citing a public health crisis. The order is expected to be reversed at the end of May, but the decision to end it has frustrated some front-line Democratic members, who have argued the administration still doesn’t have a sufficient plan to deal with an expected uptick in migration once the order ends. Many of the moderate Democrats up for reelection have been hammered back home by Republican attacks on immigration.
The issue of Title 42 has become a major flashpoint in the Senate, where the immigration policy delayed the passage of a $10 billion Covid-19 relief package before the recess. Republicans had insisted on a vote on an amendment that would have blocked the administration from ending the policy. But Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, had refused to allow the amendment on the floor, arguing that the immigration policy and Covid-19 funding were separate issues.
Moving ahead to block the administration on Title 42 would certainly be met with strong opposition from some progressives, who had been pushing the administration for months on the issue.