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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Representing the 12th District of Michigan

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Detroit Free Press: Calling all grown-ups! Bi-partisan group seeks to get health care unstuck

July 31, 2017
In The News

Finally, some good news: It appears there are at least 40 grown-ups in the U.S. House of Representatives.

And they're looking for colleagues in both parties who want to be grown-ups, too.

After years of impotent congressional dithering, 43 House lawmakers — 21 Republicans and 22 Democrats — have coalesced around a plan to stabilize state health insurance exchanges roiled by uncertainty and advance some modest Obamacare reforms that have attracted support from both parties.

The group, led by Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, calls itself the Problem Solvers caucus. But let's just call them the grown-ups.

In a quick poll I conducted Monday by telephone and e-mail, only one of the nine lawmakers who represent the Detroit region in the U.S. House — Dearborn Democrat Debbie Dingell — said he or she was ready to enlist in the Problem Solvers Caucus.

Spokespeople for Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester; Rep. David Trott, R-Birmingham; and Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden; said they're deferring any commitment to the group for now. Rep. Sander Levin, R-Royal Oak; the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said he hasn't joined the caucus but views its participation as a constructive step in the health care debate.

Three others — Tipton Republican Tim Walberg, and Democrats Brenda Lawrence (Southfield) and John Conyers (Detroit) — didn't respond to my request.

Dingell says she's told colleague Upton and caucus chairs Reed and Gottheimer she's ready to sign on to their effort, but has been told she won't be admitted until another Republican signs up under a "Noah's Ark rule" that permits lawmakers to join only in bi-partisan pairs. 

Gottheimer's spokesperson Melissa Miller says the caucus was split evenly between the two parties until one Republican member she wouldn't identify got cold feet. So Dingell will have to wait for at least two of her Republican colleagues to take the plunge before she's recognized as another vote for bipartisan sanity.

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