By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Saying that the issues the country is facing are “too big for one party,” U.S. Michael Grimm (R-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) said he has high hopes that the new group he has joined, Problem Solvers, will make a major difference in the political landscape.
“I think this is a great opportunity to bring congress back to what I heard it was years ago. In congress now, people don’t listen to each other,” Grimm told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, as he talked about his reasons for joining the Problem Solvers.
Problem Solvers, composed of members of congress from both parties, is part of a larger organization, No Labels, http://www.nolabels.org/about-us, made up of Republicans, Democrats Conservatives and independents seeking to work together to come up with ideas on dealing with the national debt and other issues.
The Problem Solvers held its first meeting, called “Meeting to Make America Work!” at the New York Marriot in Times Square on Jan. 14. Grimm joined fellow lawmakers like U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) at the meeting to discuss ways to overcome the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
“It really aligns with my goals,” Grimm said of the group. “I often try to build bridges across the aisle to try to solve the challenges our nation faces. The issues we face, they aren’t Republican issues or Democratic issues. They’re American issues.”
The goal of the group is to “find common ground” between the political parties on certain issues “and work from there,” according to Grimm, who is serving his second term in the house. “This is a group that I hope will find common solutions. We might disagree on big issues. But there might be issues we agree on. Maybe we should start with those places where we agree and build on that relationship,” he said.
“The thing is, most congress members have the same goals. We all want to move the country forward so that American citizens have good, prosperous lives. We might disagree on how to get there. But we all want the same thing,” Grimm said.
Part of the group’s strategy is to conduct “real listening sessions,” where participants exchange ideas in a respective atmosphere, Grimm said.
Jon Huntsman, the former Republican governor of Utah and co-chairman of No Labels, said he’s glad to have Grimm aboard. “The Problem Solvers are about an attitude more than anything else. It’s about searching for areas of common ground instead of searching for chances to score points against the other side. Rep. Grimm has embraced this attitude wholeheartedly,” Huntsman said.
Grimm said his military background might be one of the reasons why the No Labels philosophy appeals to him. “When I served in Operation Desert Storm and I looked around at the people I was serving with, I didn’t care what political party they belonged to,” said Grimm, a veteran of the first Gulf War in the early 1990s.
No Labels was founded by a Democratic fundraiser, Nancy Jacobson, Republican political strategist Mark McKinnon, and former U.S. comptroller David Walker. The organization held its first major conference in New York last year, drawing luminaries from across the worlds of politics and media. The names of the conference’s speakers included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, of the “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC.
At the very least, the group is going to try to achieve a more civil discourse in congress, Grimm said.