Political theory is simple. When elected officials work together to find solutions to the impasses facing the nation, the people of America are better served.
When you think that bipartisanship is beyond life support, the Problem Solvers Caucus offers some renewed hope.
They have taken on the coronavirus, immigration, and gun safety. In April, they put out a report focused on infrastructure and then reached out to top officials, including Speaker Pelosi, Senators Schumer, McCarthy, and McConnell, Secretary Buttigieg, and the White House. The goal is to address the challenges of interrelated concerns. Roads, airports, railways, water and sewage systems, the power grid, energy, communications, and broadband availability are all on the agenda.
Reading through the comments of various caucus participants, it’s clear that they are aware of the desire for “common ground” in a “deeply divided and polarized country.” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) stated his desire to ignite optimism, “elevating the best ideas from both sides of the aisle.” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a member of the Energy & Commerce and the Natural Resources Committees. She asserted: “Too often we retreat to our familiar corners to talk with people who think like us, unwilling to engage with those with different views. Our responsibility in Congress is larger than that.”
The report to the 117th Congress, titled “Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure,” takes on what is qualified as “the current backlog of deferred maintenance” facing the country. Before putting forth solutions, the findings emphasize that America hasn’t “kept pace” with upgrading our national infrastructure—a result of “underinvestment.” The country is lagging behind other nations in this area. Worse yet, financial projections show that the “funding gap” to correct this could hit $2 trillion in four years.
The beginning of the presentation highlights how climate change impacts the systems the country depends upon. Red tape and political gridlock get underscored as part of the problem. Most significantly, the premise that “environmental protections” need to be baked into the equation is a significant recognition of the challenges at hand.
As I reviewed the different sections of the material, I noted the spotlight on making sure that veterans and “historically underserved populations” would be tapped to be part of the workforce. These equity issues are directly culled from the ideas of the Green New Deal, championed by Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
There is also a nod to “resiliency measures,” an acknowledgment of the damage to foundational elements of our communities from climate-driven disasters, including wildfires, floods, and hurricanes.
The good news is that there is an overlap between Representatives who have introduced legislation that Moms Clean Air Force strongly supports and members of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
Rep. Dingell is one of the legislators who co-sponsored the THRIVE Agenda (Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy). The resolution understands that there is a nexus between the climate crisis and other vital factors. Back in February, she said:
“A nation facing unprecedented crises must respond with intentional, intersectional policies that can combat climate change, end the COVID-19 pandemic, empower working families, and address racial and economic inequities. The THRIVE Agenda will guide us as we mobilize on a transformative mission to bring justice and healing to our communities. With a broad coalition of colleagues, advocates, and activists, we will save our environment and achieve the racial and economic equity that our nation demands.”
The seas and temperatures continue to rise, and the climate crisis continues to impact our children’s health. Now is the time for our legislators to continue the job we voted them into office to do: come together to address the climate crisis and move America into a cleaner and healthier future.