GOP members consider abandoning bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus after Dem members voted to oust Speaker McCarthy

October 8, 2023
Ben Marquis

Last week, all House Democrats banded together with a small group of eight House Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and voted to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from that powerful leadership position.

That includes the purportedly centrist and moderate Democratic members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which has prompted some Republican members of the group to contemplate leaving it, Fox News reported Thursday.

As one disgruntled GOP member succinctly stated of the Problem Solvers Caucus, "I think this was a problem to be solved, and folks failed to meet the moment."

Republicans consider exiting bipartisan caucus "en masse" following Democratic betrayal

Axios reported Tuesday that there was immediate fury among the Republican half of the Problem Solvers Caucus in response to the entirety of the group's Democratic members voting in lockstep with the rest of their Democratic colleagues and the handful of anti-McCarthy Republicans to remove the House Speaker from his post.

A memo was drafted by Republican members, though it is unclear if a final version was ever sent, that accused Democratic members of aligning themselves with "Gaetz and a single-digit number of chaos agents in the Republican Conference" to upend everything at a crucial point in time.

The memo further stated, "It is unfortunate, for America and the institution of Congress, that Democrats in PSC chose not to risk the smallest amount of political capital or show the minimal courage necessary to merely vote against the Motion to Vacate. Instead, they voted for the chaos and now hope to benefit politically from it."

"To continue to participate in the Caucus would be to allow it to have the bipartisan credibility it lacks. It is with immense regret that we make this decision, but we believe it is wholly necessary given the circumstances we find ourselves in and the decisions made by PSC's Democrat members," the memo added.

"Some Republican members are actively discussing leaving problem solvers en masse," one unnamed lawmaker told Axios, while another said, "The fundamental purpose of PSC is to find solutions within a bipartisan group through trust. If we can't find consensus without including others outside the caucus, what's the purpose?"

Problem Solvers Caucus "failed" to solve the problem

In an interview with Fox News, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) said, "I’m really thinking strongly about leaving the Problem Solvers Caucus. I think there's a lot of Republicans who are disenchanted with the Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus."

"I'm very frustrated that none of the members who claim to be centrist … would work with us to defeat this motion to vacate," she continued. "If their whole purpose is to bring good governance and make sure that we can continue our work to get through this appropriations process in the next 40 days, they should have done the right thing here, which would have been to … keep Congress working."

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), a co-chair of the PSC, told CNBC Thursday, "There are a lot of us that are very upset … This was a golden opportunity for us to come together and actually oppose a move by the extremists in Congress, and the whole institution fell short."

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), when asked about a possible GOP exodus from the group, told Fox News, "I think a number of my colleagues have certainly raised that. I have not yet. I think that, you know, I want to let cooler heads prevail a little bit before having that conversation." However, he added, " I think this was a problem to be solved, and folks failed to meet the moment."

A potential deal to save McCarthy nearly reached

Politico reported that bipartisan members of the Problem Solvers Caucus had come close to arranging a deal in which enough Democrats would vote to save McCarthy's speakership in exchange for a larger share of power on certain influential committees, but the effort was scuttled at the last moment before the vote being held, angering the Republicans who thought a negotiated solution was at hand.

"Republican leaders in the Problem Solvers Caucus made last-ditch efforts up until the vote to get Democrats to help save McCarthy’s speakership. They viewed it as an opportunity for a bipartisan effort to save the institution after Speaker McCarthy put a bipartisan bill to avert a government shutdown on the floor," an unnamed source told Fox News. "Before the House Dem meeting, a few Dem members had indicated that they would likely help save McCarthy and then flipped and joined [Gaetz] in ousting the speaker."

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