Americans are privileged to have nine U.S. Senators and 58 members from the House of Representatives who publicly exhibit bipartisanship behavior. They are members of the heralded bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. The caucus -- created in 2017 -- currently features 29 Republican House of Representatives, 29 House Democrats, five GOP senators, three Senate Democrats and one Independent senator.
Another bipartisan group called G-22 – based in the Senate – is comprised of 11 Democrats, 10 Republicans and one Independent, including Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) (June 16, AP).
Guess who’s not associated with either of these across-the-aisle legislative groups? Iowa Republican Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, GOP House Reps. Ashley Hinson, Randy Feenstra and Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Democrat House Rep. Cindy Axne.
Americans are tired of partisanship, tribal identity and elected officials who claim on the campaign trail they are bipartisan, but when push-comes-to-shove their collegial behavior speaks volumes.
The Problem Solvers bipartisan success was revealed when the group “inserted itself into coronavirus aid talks last fall, where its funding proposal ($908 billion) ended up looking a lot like the final bill” (June 11, Politico). The 58 Problem Solver bipartisan legislators have been working for months on their own eight-year, $1.249 trillion infrastructure framework. Their plan is in accordance with G-22’s infrastructure endeavors.
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Knowing 44 of the Problem Solvers and G-22 are Republicans, this bilateral support may be of sufficient size to get the infrastructure plan approved. Who will be sitting on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs? Iowa’s delegation to D.C.
The bipartisan National Governors Association is on board with the Problem Solvers and G-22. Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) said, “on behalf of the National Governors Association, we are pleased that Senators of both parties have come to an agreement on a framework for funding critical infrastructure investments. We urge Congress to capitalize on this rare bipartisan agreement to deliver a transformative infrastructure bill to the American people” (July 22, nolabels.org).
No Labels (a not-for-profit bipartisan organization) and HarrisX (marketing research firm) surveyed over 12,000 voters with findings that are quite different from what left- and right-wing biased media, Democrats and Republicans have been spouting (July 22, The Hill). Seventy-two percent of voters favor the Problem Solvers bipartisan $1.249 trillion infrastructure plan investing in roads, bridges, water, power grids, broadband and other physical assets. However, 76% of the public do not want the infrastructure bill to be linked to the $3.5 trillion social spending bill.
Why aren’t Axne, Ernst, Feenstra, Grassley, Hinson and Miller-Meeks involved in the Problem Solvers or G-22? The caucus members agree not to campaign against each other in elections, their meetings are off-the-record and membership has a strong emphasis on trust. What’s wrong with those conditions?
It’s suffice to say since Iowa’s delegation to the Capitol doesn’t want to be affiliated with a bipartisan group, Sens. Grassley and Ernst must like taking their marching orders from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Reps. Feenstra, Hinson and Miller-Meeks concede to the dictums of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Axne follows the whims of Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House of Representatives. Being a lemming to their party leader versus serving Iowans is a major representation-of-the-people faux pas.
Sens. Ernst and Grassley and House Reps. Axne, Feenstra, Hinson and Miller-Meeks: Iowans need delegates to the Capitol who are willing to help resolve issues in a bipartisan manner. Become an active Problem Solver caucus member or G-22 participant – versus a party loyalist to a fault – we desperately need to end America’s year-in and year-out political gridlock.
Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. His opinions do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa. Reach him at Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com.