Rep. Lloyd Smucker joins 'Problem Solvers Caucus' as voters have less faith in Washington

June 5, 2017
In The News

At a time when voter optimism is dipping to its lowest point in the young President Donald Trump administration, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker has joined an organized group of lawmakers dedicated to pushing through partisan gridlock.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, with about 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats, is “committed to bringing members together across party lines and finding areas of agreement on key issues.”

The freshman congressman from West Lampeter Township said that by joining the group he hopes to “focus on navigating — not obstructing — our path forward” while still maintaining his “conservative principles.”

“I represent a conservative district and I have my own conservative values, and I think the best way to implement those values is to find ways to work with people you may not agree with on every issue,” said Smucker, who represents most of Lancaster County with the 16th Congressional District.

Smucker was elected in November to succeed 10-term Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts. Since taking office five months ago, Smucker has consistently supported and voted in favor of Trump and congressional GOP leadership.

Meanwhile, voters have largely stood by their candidates in the last election, but there are signs that faith in Washington lawmakers is declining.

A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found 39 percent of registered voters said they thought the U.S. was headed in the right direction, and 61 percent said it was on the wrong track. That was the lowest level of voter optimism since Trump’s inauguration, and down from a high of 47 percent of voters who showed optimism in early- and mid-April.

Smucker said joining the Problem Solvers Caucus now was less about timing and more about continuing a promise he made in January when he signed a “commitment to civility” with the rest of his freshmen colleagues.

“The Problem Solvers Caucus to me is really taking that message, that idea that I talked about just a few months ago and putting it into action,” he said.

His joining comes days after a column by Rabbi Jack Paskoff appeared in LNP, in which he urged Smucker to join the group after a discussion he had with the lawmaker in his Washington, D.C. office.

“We are in our ninth year of a booming voice that says, ‘Not while he’s president.’ ” wrote Paskoff, rabbi of Congregation Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster. “That can never be the answer for a true problem-solver.”

Other than being accepted by the group’s current members, the only other criteria for joining the caucus is that a Republican must enter into the group with a Democrat and vice versa.

Smucker declined to say which Democrats he joined because, he said, there was a small group that joined at the same time, and each member wasn’t exactly “paired up” with someone across the aisle.

Smucker said he hopes the caucus can be a way to solidify bipartisan agreements. One of its appeals, he said, is his belief that it can make progress on tax reform and an infrastructure bill in the near future. He said there has been “a lot of discussion going on” regarding those topics.

Specifically, those topics were the subject of a letter the group recently sent to Trump, urging him to begin discussions on such GOP priorities that have fallen by the wayside in the first months of his administration.

While Problem Solvers Caucus does not publish a list of its members, the letter was signed by 35 members. It included several Pennsylvania Republicans whose districts surround or are near Smucker’s, such as Reps. Ryan Costello, Charlie Dent, Brian Fitzpatrick and Glenn Thompson.

Rep. Patrick Meehan, who represents a small portion of eastern Lancaster County, also signed.