A New Year, a new Congress, and a divided government. Yet, Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, of Pennsylvania, and Democrat Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey, still believe that, in a splintered, GOP-held House, good things can happen. "Most people have never heard of us," Fitzpatrick said. "They're like, 'Really? There's a group of Democrats and Republicans actually get together and sit down?'"
"Is it realistic that you can actually solve the problems next year?" asked Costa.
"Yes, and we have no choice. We have to."
But these moderates, who lead the Problem Solvers Caucus, could face challenges from problem-makers. Costa asked, "How do you get attention if you're competing against a bomb thrower?"
"Well, we get things done," Gottheimer replied. "So, when the infrastructure bill got across the finish line, that was us, along with our Senate colleagues, negotiating for months. You know, there would have been nothing versus getting something done."
But before any deals, many Republicans say it's time for investigations. Rep. James Comer, of Kentucky, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee (whose fellow Republicans had been investigating the Biden family), said on November 17, "I want to be clear: This is an investigation of Joe Biden, and that's where this committee will focus in this next Congress."
Costa asked New York Times Magazine writer Robert Draper, "It seems like you have a bucket of cold water to pour upon any hope that this is going to be a cheery Congress?"
"It's cheery if you enjoyed dysfunction!" he laughed.
Draper is the author of "Weapons of Mass Delusion: When the Republican Party Lost Its Mind."
He said, "For those people who would like to see things actually get done, I don't think that this Republican conference is currently equipped for that. They're way too fractious, and I think the loudest voices in the room are the ones who are far more interested in politics as performance art than they are in the nitty-gritty of governance."
Costa said, "There is a shadow that falls over Capitol Hill, still, from January 6; you have so many Republicans in the House who are trying to overturn the election, and they're still there, right?"
"That's correct, and there are not only Republicans who are still there who voted not to certify the election, but there are Democrats who well remember that," Draper replied.
And some Republicans say impeachment is on the table.
"When we turn on the TV in the spring, will it just be investigation after investigation, hearing after hearing, about the Biden family and the Biden administration?" Costa asked.
"In the immediate, yes," said Draper. "I think that's the low-hanging fruit that Republicans, for the most part, can agree on – that it'll be the party of payback when they take back the majority."
History, however, shows presidents can push back. And never forget that they hold that veto pen.
For more info:
- Problem Solvers Caucus (house.gov)
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.)
- "Weapons of Mass Delusion: When the Republican Party Lost Its Mind" by Robert Draper (Penguin Press), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound
Story produced by Ed Forgotson and Amy Wall. Editor: Remington Korper.
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