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EXCLUSIVE: GOP Rep explains why bipartisanship is the best way forward

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., left, and Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., right, listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last week, President Trump praised Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) for his loyalty and willingness to work across the aisle and find bipartisan solutions.

“I want to thank Tom Reed. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time. He was there right at the beginning when it wasn’t very fashionable,” Trump said.

Reed has remained a loyal ally to the president through both his favorable and not so favorable decisions on the campaign trail and as president. At the same time, the Republican congressman has found a way to work with Democrats to find bipartisan solutions to the President’s top legislative issues.

In an exclusive interview, Reed told Red Alert Politics how he is able to get Democrats and Republicans to the table.

“I’ve seen firsthand where the gridlock has gotten off,” Reed said, “And so what I believe is you bring your ideas to the table, you embrace the other side in the open and honest debate that they have on their ideas and our ideas, and then try to find that common ground that Ronald Reagan taught us.”

Reed is the chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, the group that was created in January, and has been hard at work behind the scenes.

“A silent majority of members have been coming up to me over the years and in the recent past with the success we’ve had in the Problem Solvers caucus working across the aisle, and I’ll tell you the energy is there,” Reed said.

Following the failures on health care, Reed said he started to get approached more often by members who wanted to find an effective replacement plan.

“I’ll tell you the energy is there. I think we’re going to have a critical mass where we have members coming forward saying, ‘You know enough is enough. We came here to get things done,'” Reed said.

However, his caucus isn’t only gaining traction on Capitol Hill. Just last week, the President invited caucus members to the White House to discuss their ideas on a broad range of issues.

“I think you’re going to also see us play a position in the government shutdown-debt ceiling negotiations, you’re going to see us in this position with tax reform which is more on the 2017, early 2018 timelines,” Reed said, “And then health care I think will naturally be one of these issues that continually has to be addressed into 2018, ’19, and ’20.”

The looming budget deadline, tax reform, and immigration have taken the headlines recently, but repealing and replacing Obamacare has not lost its clout with the president or voters. The bipartisan caucus has been working around the clock to draft a replacement plan.

“First, it took a solid month of us getting together as a group, the 43 of us equally divided Democrats and Republicans. When we came back after our events 8:00 at night on many occasions, we rolled up our sleeves and had a conversation about what can we do in health care where we can find common ground,” Reed said.

Caucus members believe that the path to effective reform is best achieved by replacing parts of the Affordable Care Act in incremental steps, a process Reed predicts could take up to three years.

“If you look at what Tip O’Neill did when it comes to tax reform. Look at what Bill Clinton did with Newt Gingrich when it came to things like work reform for welfare,” Reed said, ”Those are huge reforms that withstood the test of time and so I see this happening in incremental steps not one fatal package of a repeal and replace.”

The first and most urgent reform Reed said is changing the individual marketplace. The PSC has discussed the importance of this reform with members of both the House and Senate. Heeding the PSC advice, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, has been holding a series of public hearings on reforming the individual marketplace. Reed said he believes that the PSC had a lot to do with getting the conversation in the Senate focused on improving the individual market for consumers.

“I hope what we did in the House and talking to the Senators, I think they affirm that we helped break that gridlock on the health care issue,” Reed said.

Reed expects that bipartisanship will drive the discussion on more issues to come. Despite the president facing criticism for his recent meetings with Democrats, Reed supports the president’s decision and says working across the aisle is necessary for lawmakers and the president to pass sustainable solutions.

“I think the better approach in my humble opinion is trying to work across the aisle and come up with solutions that we can both agree this is moving the ball in the right direction,” Reed said.

Reed is urging voters not to resist bipartisanship. He said it is possible for both conservatives and liberals to have victories, and still have successes for their parties.

“It’s not us winning versus you losing. It’s more about all of us winning together.”

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