Dingell, Upton talk civility during Grand Rapids event

GRAND RAIPDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Even as we head into the home stretch of a major election and two political conventions that will amply political differences, there is a group of U.S. House members that are talking about civility and bipartisanship instead.

The group calls themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus and is evenly divided into 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats.

Two of those members are from Michigan: Democrat Debbie Dingell and Republican Fred Upton. Dingell and Upton were in Grand Rapids Tuesday holding a virtual conversation on civility.

Afterward, they, along with caucus co-chair Thomas Reed of New York, talked about what their group has done and what they would still like to achieve.

“One of the things that the Problem Solvers did, and we identified this early — how do we get through part of this crap? We had to change the rules, and we did. Credit to the Democrats as well as the Republicans, but the Democrats were in the hot seat because they took the majority two years ago. But they said we’re not going to vote for the speaker and Republicans would have done the same thing unless we change the rules to make this more bipartisan,” Upton said.

Dingell said she would like to see relationships in Congress restored and for them to get to know and listen to each other.

“God gave us two ears and a mouth for a reason. And less talking to the cameras and more talking to each other and different perspective, and to actually have the kind of dialogue that your supposed to have, that we used to have,” Dingell said.

The group is apparently having an impact in Washington. Recently, they said the White House has reached out to the them to help find consensus on a new coronavirus stimulus bill.

“They spent an hour with us on the phone — Mark Meadows, himself — going through line-by-line, kind of where they were and we’re communicating with the speaker and others to keep people informed and say, ‘Where are we at with the numbers? What do you mean by this proposals? What is the length of time you’re proposing?’ And what we’re finding is a lot of time, people were talking past each other” Reed said.

The group, along with the rest of the House of Representatives, will head back to Washington Saturday for a series of votes that will include new legislation that would be aimed at addressing recent concerns about lagging service and large stockpiles of mail at the United States Postal System.