Rep. Dean Phillips brings Problem Solvers Caucus to Minnesota State Fair

Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) returned to Minneapolis this week for the first time since 1988 and with Democrat Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) as an unlikely tour guide.

Phillips and Fitzpatrick are both members of Problem Solvers Caucus, an independent member-driven group in Congress that is made up of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans.

"The problem solvers caucus, in my estimation, is the antidote to everything that is challenging our nation right now. Division, discord, lack of trust, and lack of understanding," Phillips told WCCO Radio's John Hines during The Morning News on Thursday.

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Phillips said what makes their caucus unique is that they take time to get to know one another through decency in order to reach a common goal.

"We commit to being decent to one another," Phillips added. "Getting to know each other, breaking bread, developing trust, and most importantly looking to solutions instead of using division to build our brands."

Phillips and Fitzpatrick took their friendship to the Minnesota State Fair on Wednesday, a spectacle that Fitzpatrick found quite impressive.

"My first time at the fair and I was on a mission to find something that I could eat that was not on a stick," Fitzpatrick said with a laugh. "And I failed miserably."

Both Phillips and Fitzpatrick told Hines that the shared experiences are able to help members of the Problem Solvers Caucus address critical issues together, without the political positioning and name calling that typically grabs headlines.

"We played a big role in establishing the COVID relief programs that successfully passed and helped us get through some of the worst months in our lifetimes," Phillips said. "Without the Problem Solvers Caucus, I don't think we would have a bipartisan infrastructure bill."

Phillips said a bipartisan retreat at Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's home featuring bipartisan senators, governors, and members of congress led to the passing of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

"We're not the names you see on cable news every night, or have the biggest social media followings," he added. "We're the work horses and not the show horses."

Both congressmen said that the caucus wants to show the rest of America that working together is possible.

"One of the things we do in our caucus is district swaps so hopefully I'll be back and Dean will visit my district," Fitzpatrick said. "The goal of these is to really learn and build relationships with colleagues across the aisle. It's also an opportunity to meet constituents in other districts to hear what they're thinking as well."