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WASHINGTON — Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, announced this week he has joined the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group made up equally of Republican and Democratic representatives that seeks to advance shared priorities.
Curtis' entry into the caucus ensures Utah will continue to be represented there after a former member, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, lost his reelection bid in November.
"Since coming to Congress, I have championed multiple pieces of legislation that were signed into law and all of them received bipartisan support," Curtis said in a statement Wednesday. "Americans want Congress to solve problems, not perpetuate the divisiveness that has become all too common in America's political realm. I am proud to be a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus to work towards pragmatic solutions to improve the lives of Utahns and Americans."
Curtis has personally seen both sides of the aisle during his adult life, as he used to be a registered Democrat.
McAdams said Curtis is "a perfect fit" for the caucus.
"He and I had an excellent working relationship," McAdams told KSL.com. "We didn't agree on every issue, but we always had respect for each other. I think he brings the right temperament to the job to really have an impact there."
McAdams explained that Problem Solvers join the caucus "Noah's Ark style" — that is, two-by-two, with every new Republican member accompanied by a Democrat, and vice versa, to keep the numbers even. He said the caucus meets several times a week to discuss the "tough topics" where they can find common ground, like immigration reform and coronavirus relief, and said the group had important legislative successes during his term.
"But I think just as important as the legislative successes we had, was that we had the opportunity to get to know people from both sides of the aisle, to learn to respect and to value the opinions of people who see things very differently," McAdams said. "I think it's that trust-building exercise that happens that really was key to our ability to break the logjam, and to get stuff done."
The caucus Thursday announced its policy priorities for the 117th Congress, including COVID-19 response; infrastructure; broadband internet expansion; small business and innovation incentives; immigration reform and border security; debt and deficit reduction; health care; labor and workforce issues; police reform; energy and climate; and election security.
"With a narrowly divided House and Senate, the Problem Solvers Caucus will continue to work closely, across the aisle, and with both Chambers, to tackle some of our country's toughest challenges with civility," the caucus said in a news release. "These problems require bipartisan consensus and respectful collaboration to ensure long term solutions. Gridlock and partisanship will serve no one."
McAdams acknowledged that working across the aisle isn't always popular in today's political environment.
"Not everyone wants to see problem-solvers in Congress right now, from both sides," he said. But McAdams continues to believe that all Americans can "learn by talking to each other and listening to each other."
"I think we need more of that," McAdams said.