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EDINBURG, Texas – U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez says one of the best things he has done in Congress is co-found the Problem Solvers Caucus.

The bipartisan group now numbers more than 40 members of Congress. It seeks to find common ground among Republicans and Democrats and shun the extreme wings of the two political parties.

Gonzalez was asked about the Problem Solvers Caucus during a recent webinar hosted by Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and Pathfinder Public Affairs.

“I was ranked in the top five percent most bipartisan members. That is out of the 535 members, including the Senate,” Gonzalez said. “I sponsored more bipartisan bills than 95 percent of my colleagues.”

Gonzalez, a Democrat from McAllen, said there are currently 42 members in the Problem Solvers Caucus, with an even split among Republicans and Democrats.

“We get together every single week and we go over bills and issues that we can find common ground on,” he explained.

Something that fits in with his membership of Problem Solvers, Gonzalez said, is being  founder and co-chairman of the Oil and Gas Caucus for the Democratic Party. 

“We did not have a chair at the table when we were talking about energy. Most Democrats ran from the subject and I thought this was a very important aspect of my district and a very important aspect for our state. It provides good jobs for people in my district. It fits right into this Problem Solvers Caucus.”

Gonzalez said he would like to see the Problem Solvers Caucus become a lot bigger and more powerful.

“I always say, when we get to 218 that will be the real America because we are the centrists, we are the moderates from both sides. I really believe the extremes are a minority in America. This is where most people stand ideologically.”

Gonzalez said the caucus has had success.

“We have been able to sponsor bills, we have been able to add language into bills, we have been able to help members on both sides. When they (Republicans) were in the majority they helped us get some of our bills through. When we (Democrats) were in the majority we have been able to help them.”

By way of example, Gonzalez pointed to his Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act, which was recently passed into law by President Trump. He said Republicans in the Problem Solvers Caucus helped persuade the president of the bill’s merits. 

“Some of the best ideas have come out of the Problem Solvers Caucus. We are a middle of the road crowd. They say up here you are either a show horse or a workhorse. I can guarantee you these 42 members are all workhorses. They are doing the people’s work. They are looking at the issues, not trying to get on TV.”

“I cannot be more proud than to be a member of this group. They are a solid group of members.”

Gonzalez said he has traveled to the home districts of members in the caucus and they have traveled to his. 

“Since I arrived in Congress I have brought over 200 members of the United States Congress from around the country to the Rio Grande Valley. They all fall in love with the Valley. They cannot believe it is what it is, compared to what they see on TV. They love our food and our culture and the cleanliness and safety when they get there,” Gonzalez said.

Such visits can help dispel myths created by commentators on national TV, the congressman argued.

“It is important that the narrative of South Texas is not carried by TV pundits and that we have members that understand our area and are ready to work with us. But, a lot of what is important to us is important to them – trade, agriculture, we talk about our ports of entry which are so important for commerce.”

The only sad thing, Gonzalez said, is that members of the Problem Solvers Caucus are more prone to losing an election.

“It is so sad. They are in districts that can go either way. We lose some of our very best members, unfortunately. We don’t campaign against each other. That is a commitment we have made to each other. We raise resources for our campaigns. We believe that is the true America.”

Gonzalez was asked about the Problem Solvers Caucus during a recent webinar hosted by Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and Pathfinder Public Affairs.

“I was ranked in the top five percent most bipartisan members. That is out of the 535 members, including the Senate,” Gonzalez said. “I sponsored more bipartisan bills than 95 percent of my colleagues.”

Gonzalez, a Democrat from McAllen, said there are currently 42 members in the Problem Solvers Caucus, with an even split among Republicans and Democrats.

“We get together every single week and we go over bills and issues that we can find common ground on,” he explained.

Something that fits in with his membership of Problem Solvers, Gonzalez said, is being  founder and co-chairman of the Oil and Gas Caucus for the Democratic Party. 

“We did not have a chair at the table when we were talking about energy. Most Democrats ran from the subject and I thought this was a very important aspect of my district and a very important aspect for our state. It provides good jobs for people in my district. It fits right into this Problem Solvers Caucus.”

Gonzalez said he would like to see the Problem Solvers Caucus become a lot bigger and more powerful.

“I always say, when we get to 218 that will be the real America because we are the centrists, we are the moderates from both sides. I really believe the extremes are a minority in America. This is where most people stand ideologically.”

Gonzalez said the caucus has had success.

“We have been able to sponsor bills, we have been able to add language into bills, we have been able to help members on both sides. When they (Republicans) were in the majority they helped us get some of our bills through. When we (Democrats) were in the majority we have been able to help them.”

By way of example, Gonzalez pointed to his Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act, which was recently passed into law by President Trump. He said Republicans in the Problem Solvers Caucus helped persuade the president of the bill’s merits. 

“Some of the best ideas have come out of the Problem Solvers Caucus. We are a middle of the road crowd. They say up here you are either a show horse or a workhorse. I can guarantee you these 42 members are all workhorses. They are doing the people’s work. They are looking at the issues, not trying to get on TV.”

“I cannot be more proud than to be a member of this group. They are a solid group of members.”

Gonzalez said he has traveled to the home districts of members in the caucus and they have traveled to his. 

“Since I arrived in Congress I have brought over 200 members of the United States Congress from around the country to the Rio Grande Valley. They all fall in love with the Valley. They cannot believe it is what it is, compared to what they see on TV. They love our food and our culture and the cleanliness and safety when they get there,” Gonzalez said.

Such visits can help dispel myths created by commentators on national TV, the congressman argued.

“It is important that the narrative of South Texas is not carried by TV pundits and that we have members that understand our area and are ready to work with us. But, a lot of what is important to us is important to them – trade, agriculture, we talk about our ports of entry which are so important for commerce.”

The only sad thing, Gonzalez said, is that members of the Problem Solvers Caucus are more prone to losing an election.

“It is so sad. They are in districts that can go either way. We lose some of our very best members, unfortunately. We don’t campaign against each other. That is a commitment we have made to each other. We raise resources for our campaigns. We believe that is the true America.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows members of Congress being sworn into office for the 117th Congress. Pictured in the middle is U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen.


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