The University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center held an online event on Wednesday entitled ‘One Nation; Saving our Democracy through Bipartisanship’ featuring two members of the ‘Problem Solvers Caucus’,  Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Republican Representative Tom Reed of New York.

The moderator was David Bell, who opened the conversation by looking at two recent polls.

“As we can see from this recent poll, 81% of Republicans said that the Democratic Party has been taken over by socialists, and 78% of Democrats polled said the Republican Party has been taken over by racists,” said Bell. “Whatever you think about the results of that poll, we can see that there is perhaps one thing that there is bipartisan agreement on, which is that we are not in a good place.”

Representative Gottheimer said he and Representative Reed are serious about bipartisanship.

“Tom and I literally every week even though he's a proud Republican, and I'm proud Democrat,” said Gottheimer. “We focus on one thing; bringing us together. The problem solvers caucus is 28 Democrats and 28 Republicans from all over the country, and we really believe in one thing, which is putting country over party.”

Gottheimer laid out one of the rules of the PSC.

“We have a rule that when we get to 75% of us voting the same way, we agree to vote together and stand together as a group, as a bloc, which means that we're 56 members out of 135,” he said. “We can have a huge difference, especially now when we've got a four seat majority. The Democrats in the House of Representatives, and as you know, a 50-50 Senate. We also three agree never to campaign against each other; never to write a check to someone's opponent, and never to go campaign against someone in their district. We work together and we trust one another. We develop relationships with one another and we work on legislation together."

Reed said the PSC (Problem Solvers Caucus) is already making a difference in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Problem Solvers Caucus has changed the rules of the institution,” said Reed. “It has changed the culture in regards to how the 58 of us as leaders are looked at. We have a waiting list to get into the caucus because you just can't put it on your resume and join. People are begging, I should say, to get into the caucus because they see that we're effective. They see that we can influence the agenda, they can see that we can have a dialogue where we disagree, but actually remain friends.”

There was some disagreement over HB 1, however, as Democrat Gottheimer voted ‘yea’ and Republican Reed voted ‘nay’.

Watch the entire presentation here on the Mansfield Center’s Facebook page.

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