WASHINGTON, (NEXSTAR) — Midwest Democrats are vowing to ensure Midwest issues are a priority in Washington, especially within their own party.

“Issues like bringing back American manufacturing, investing in rural revitalization,” explained Rep. Nikki Budzinski, D-IL.

Wednesday, a group led by Michigan Democrat Rep. Debbie Dingell announced the launch of the Heartland Caucus.

“This region is the backbone of America,” said Dingell.

Caucus members say the goal is to build upon investments like the recent infrastructure bill and CHIPS Act.

Dingell said that begins with getting more Midwest Democrats appointed to leadership positions.

“It’s about recognition,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio.

“We have to insist our voices are going to be heard,” Dingell added.

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said while he supports their overall mission, he’s skeptical Democrats’ policies will help reverse economic damage back at home.

“Always welcome people who want to help the heartland rather than hurt the heartland,” he said. But Hawley warned, “You look at their policies for the last two years and the last 20 years and more. They have sent jobs overseas to China, they have hollowed out our industries, certainly in my home state of Missouri.”

The roughly 30-member caucus does not include any Republicans.

But Dingell said the group plans to reach across the aisle to push issues like Great Lakes funding, agricultural aid and boosting manufacturing jobs.