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Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair: 'Pragmatic' lawmakers will 'rise to the top' in new Congress

Rep. Tom Reed says moderate or "pragmatic" members of Congress are "going to be in a position to influence the agenda greatly" next year.

Updated: December 6, 2020 - 9:49am

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New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed, co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, told Just the News that he thinks the most "pragmatic" lawmakers will "rise to the top" in the new Congress next year given the "tight majorities" in both chambers.

Right now, the Democrats have 222 House seats after losing 10 in the recent elections, despite widespread predictions of large Democratic gains. The Republicans have increased their numbers to 212. One House race remains undecided. In the Senate, the GOP has 50 seats to the Democrats' 48, with runoffs for Georgia's two seats set for January.

Given the makeup of the House, Reed was asked if he thinks moderate members will have more influence on budgetary issues in the new Congress compared to the current one.

"I shy away from the term 'moderate,' but I will say, the pragmatic members is how I would label us, and what I mean by that is the ones that are common sense," Reed said during an interview on Thursday. "In the Problem Solvers Caucus, we've got some of the most right, the most left members that are part of it, but the commonality is that they're pragmatic, they're common-sense-driven members.

"I think what you're going to see in the next Congress, with the tight majorities, is that those members are going to rise to the top, and they're going to be in a position to influence the agenda greatly. It's a five-seat delta with the majority-minority, to either block legislation, but most importantly, not only block legislation, but also to potentially be the lubricant to get to yes. And so that's something, I think, we are positioned very well to take advantage of."

The House Problem Solvers Caucus has worked with a group of senators from both sides of the aisle on the $908 billion coronavirus relief package framework that was laid out earlier this week. It is currently being developed into formal legislation, and the number of lawmakers supporting it is growing.

New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, was asked what the high level of bipartisan support for the relief package framework might portend for the influence of moderates in the next Congress.

"Common sense will be what dictates in the next Congress, and this model of how we're working together, to me, is exactly the model to get things done in the next Congress," he said. "Democrats and Republicans coming together, not just here, obviously, given the narrow majorities, working together with our Senate colleagues."

Gottheimer said building a bipartisan coalition to tackle issues facing the country is the right approach "versus people screaming and yelling at each other."