The House's Problem Solvers Caucus is the sort of group that, at least in theory, tends to be popular: a congressional caucus made up of members who are committed to finding bipartisan solutions to major issues. In a 2017 op-ed, the caucus' leaders wrote, "We all knew the partisanship in Washington had gotten out of control and felt the need to create a bipartisan group committed to getting to 'yes' on important issues."
In practice, the Problem Solvers Caucus didn't actually solve many problems in the years that followed, but Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), one of the group's two co-chairs, sat down with NPR's Steve Inskeep yesterday to explore the possibility of Republicans finding common ground with President Joe Biden.
The host reminded the New York congressman, "We are just coming out of this period ... where most of your party in Congress voted to object to the election that Biden obviously won. And they backed up President Trump's lies that he won. Is that a signal for the way that a majority of your party intends to approach this new administration?" Reed challenged the premise.
"I think what we have to do there, Steve, is recognize that we can't stereotype groups, and you're stereotyping the entire Republican Party.... And I can tell you, there's many good men and women in the Republican Party that are willing to sit at the table -- and that's us in the Problem Solvers Caucus leading the charge."
There were, of course, a couple of problems with this. The first was the one Inskeep was quick to mention.
"Congressman, just to be very clear, I'm not stereotyping; I am counting," the NPR host noted.
Quite right. Inskeep's observation was that most congressional Republicans voted to object to Biden's electoral victory, and arithmetic bolsters the point: on the day that lawmakers certified the results of the presidential election, there were 262 GOP lawmakers present in the House and Senate, and 146 of them supported one or both of the objections.
One need not "stereotype" Republicans to acknowledge what Republicans did. Reed -- who was not among those who objected -- may not like his party's stand against democracy, but there's no point in denying what actually happened.
But there's a related point that didn't come up during the NPR interview. For Reed, the way back toward political sanity is to turn to the sensible members of his bipartisan group. Look at his quote again: there are "many good men and women in the Republican Party that are willing to sit at the table -- and that's us in the Problem Solvers Caucus leading the charge."
I wish that were true, but what Reed neglected to mention is that some of the Republicans in the Problem Solvers Caucus were among those voting to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In fact, I cross referenced the caucus' membership list with the roll call votes from Jan. 6 -- see here and here -- and found that Reps. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) and Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) were among the many Republicans contesting Biden's victory.
It's entirely possible that these four have been removed from the Problem Solvers Caucus as a result of their votes, but the group's website hasn't been updated. If so, I'll gladly update this post.
That said, as of this morning, it appears some of the Republicans we're supposed to look to as sensible and responsible, "leading the charge" toward constructive policymaking, are the same Republicans who thumbed their noses at our democracy.
There's no stereotyping necessary.