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Solving problems

Rep. Tom Reed, who certainly has taken his fair share of slams since he early-on hitched his support to President Donald Trump, has gained some national attention for, we’re not kidding, bipartisanship.

Apparently, despite the plethora of obits published across the country, that word and that spirit still exist in some bastions of  D.C.

The Corning Republican, who represents a large swath of the Southern Tier as well as Ontario, Seneca and Yates counties in the Rochester region, co-chairs the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 44 members of the House of Representatives. The caucus consists of 22 Republicans and 22 Democrats. The other co-chair is Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D.-N.J.

Interestingly, if a member wants to join, he or she must bring a partner from the other party.

The caucus leaders do not name the membership, leaving it to individuals to declare their affiliation, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explained in an editorial praising the effort.

No doubt with the rancor and passion possessing many in the two major parties’ bases, coming out for bipartisanship might not be the best path to staying in office—or at least avoiding a primary. So for some their membership might be better to stay hush-hush.

Published reports credited the caucus’s muscle in pushing a proposal to avert a government shutdown in April, and it has made it a goal to pass tax reform and an infrastructure bill.

Indeed, Tom and Josh on May 3 announced the first win for the caucus after it used its influence to get the Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill passed.

“The Problem Solvers Caucus, nearly 40 members strong from both sides of the aisle, will be fighting for common sense principles that impact all Americans—Democrat, Republican, Independent—everyone,” said Tom, when he was elected co-chair in February.

Tom has been involved with the Problem Solvers Caucus since 2013, but early this year the caucus formalized its leadership structure, bylaws and standards, with plans to develop a more ambitious legislative agenda.

The caucus adopted rules that if three-quarters of its members agree on a position, the group will vote as a bloc on the House floor. Those rules mean, of course, that some representatives would have to cross party lines to trigger the three-fourths rule, but almost all members come from competitive districts, giving them more incentive to compromise, according to the Post-Gazette.

How will this bipartisanship fare long term? Stay tuned for 2018 elections.

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