PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS CALLS ON LEADERSHIP TO DEVELOP ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS

April 7, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, April 7, 2020, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus sent a PDF iconletter to Congressional House leadership calling on Congress to begin planning and approving ways for the U.S. House of Representatives to function during the present COVID-19 emergency.

The fifty Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY), believe it is essential that all Members of Congress can carry out their Constitutional responsibilities and represent their constituents.

The letter, which was sent to Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy states: “Unlike the flu pandemic of 1918, modern technology offers us a host of options to govern from afar, safely and securely, during these exigent circumstances.  Governments around the world, including England and Japan, have deployed these options, and are voting from home.”

In the letter, the Caucus outlines suggestions for leadership to consider, including voting options, floor debate, and committee procedures. 


"We live in an age where anything from national emergencies, public health crises, and terrorism can disrupt ordinary House business," said Problem Solvers Co-Chair Rep. Tom Reed. "I hope Congressional House leadership will seriously consider the recommendations outlined in the letter put forth by the Problem Solvers Caucus so that our important work can continue now and in any extraordinary circumstances ahead.”

“As we continue to combat this public health and economic crisis, and work on the next emergency legislative package, I will to continue to fight for solutions to help the families and businesses in my District — one of the top coronavirus hotspots in the country,” said Problem Solvers Co-Chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer.  “We are in the eye of the storm, and the residents, front-line medical workers, and businesses in our North Jersey community are facing particular challenges. We need a clear process to debate and vote on vital legislation remotely, while still following public health guidelines.”

“During these uncertain times, it is incredibly important that Members of Congress maintain their legislative workload, to include hearings, markups, and votes on legislation to help the American people,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “House Leadership must look for new and innovative ways for Members to remotely interface, while following CDC guidelines and maintaining public health best practices.”

“As the Representative for Central Virginia, I have a constitutional duty to serve our district through my votes and statements in the U.S. House. During this public health emergency, Members of Congress must commit to thinking creatively about how they can best represent their constituents’ interests, particularly as we vote on key pieces of legislation to combat this crisis—including major healthcare assistance and economic relief packages,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger. “Central Virginia working families and businesses have quickly adapted their operations to these unprecedented and uncertain times, and there’s no reason why our elected officials can’t also debate a path forward on modernizing and updating our voting infrastructure, debate methods, and committee proceedings to reflect the dangerous, present circumstances in which we find ourselves.”

“In times of crisis, Americans look to Congress to solve problems. As hardworking Americans continue to do all they can to put food on the table, Congress must be held accountable to fulfill its constitutional duty to represent their constituents,” said Rep. Steve Watkins. “Congress has come together to deliver three bipartisan bills to combat this health and economic crisis. In order to continue that work, Problem Solvers stand ready to find a solution using 21st Century technology to deliver transparent and accountable results for the American people.”

“In times of crisis, it is more important than ever that the American people know that Congress is on the job, working to find solutions,” said Rep. Dan Lipinski. “We need to act quickly, but this does not have to mean most of us giving up our power as legislators to a few decision makers. This is not the way Congress is supposed to work and it is possible even in these difficult times for Congress to debate, deliberate, and legislate as is intended in our democratic republic.”

"As members of Congress, our number one job is being responsible and accountable to our constituents," said Rep. Salud Carbajal. "This means not only voting in the best interests of our community for stronger coronavirus relief and protections, but also modeling smart health and safety practices. Congress needs to adapt to this modern crisis and ensure that members don't need to gather in large groups to fulfill our duties, risk spreading the virus and then return to all corners of the country. These clear suggestions by our Problem Solvers Caucus promote transparency, accountability and safety for the communities we represent."

“During this growing crisis it is critical for members of Congress to be able to serve their communities, stay healthy, and respond to the ever-changing situation,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi. “Democrats and Republicans agree: Congress needs to adapt to the times and allow for members to fulfill their Constitutional duty during a pandemic. These suggestions represent a small change to process that will protect our Democracy and allow all members to continue to conduct the people’s business in Congress while in their communities serving the people of their district.”

 

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The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising of 50 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).