WASHINGTON – Officials in Washington, D.C. have proposed a package of new policy that aims to address health care, food security needs and bring economic revival in the wake of the novel Coronavirus outbreak.
The House of Representative’s Problem Solvers Caucus, co-chaired by Congressman Tom Reed, presented their recommendations to congressional leaders and the White House on Friday.
The package, Reed says, aims to bring economic response for businesses, employees and the self-employed, secure health care, provide food security needs, and restart the economy with infrastructure investment.
“It’s always better for the country when we act together,” said Congressman Reed in a statement. “The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus’ ‘Heath Crisis and Economic Revival Package’ provides Congressional Leadership and the Administration tools to continue solving the Coronavirus emergency and ensures the revival of the U.S. economy when it is over. Together, we must see the light through the darkness.”
The Caucus’ proposed recommendations include:
I. Economic Response for Businesses, Employees and the Self-Employed
- Immediate, Direct Financial Payments to Individuals: Limited only to the crisis, significantly increase unemployment insurance benefits, including payment amounts, for hourly and salaried workers, under a certain income threshold. This relief should focus on mid-to-low-income workers and furloughed workers. Provisions to be made for freelancers and the self-employed to ensure the same relief.
- Bridge Loans to Help Keep Businesses in Business: Low-or-zero-interest loans to businesses of all sizes willing to keep their employees (furlough, but preserving benefits) in their positions during the coronavirus crisis. Must include long-term repayment options, and not exclude any industries.
- Allow Individuals and Businesses to Defer Mortgage Payments and Rent: During the national crisis, stay all foreclosure and evictions proceedings.
- Contract and Insurance Protections for Existing Contract and Business Insurance Policies: Legislatively declare the coronavirus a public health crisis, and, as such, a qualifying event for all existing force majeure contract provisions and business interruption insurance policies.
- Loan Deferral and Forbearance: Develop and allow loan deference, modification, and forbearance mechanisms for individuals and businesses of all sizes, during the crisis (e.g. mortgages, lines of credits, student loans, and other qualifying loans).
- Refundable Tax Credit to Employers for Employee Retention: During the crisis, provide immediately advanceable, refundable tax credits for employee retention by employers — including maintaining employment status or providing benefits for furloughed employees.
II. Health Care & Food Security Needs
- Speed Testing to Market: Provide additional regulatory relief at FDA and CDC for market-based testing solutions and essential supplies (e.g. testing kits, ventilators, PPEs, reagent supply, and hospital conversion).
- Childcare Enhancement: Reflecting new work and school environment, enact childcare assistance policies and regulatory relief to provide childcare coverage during term of crisis.
- Price Gouging: Enact applicable measures to strictly enforce anti-price gouging measures.
- Medical Personnel and Supplies: Where available, deploy federal government excess medical personnel and equipment capacity, including military sources (e.g. vents), to affected areas needing service.
- GI Benefits: Correct the technical glitch, so that, during this time of crisis, veterans can utilize GI benefits for online learning.
III. Long-term Economic Stimulus and Job Creation
- Infrastructure Investment: Passage of a significant infrastructure package which would stimulate job growth and allow for borrowing at historically-low interest rates.
- Best Practice Encouragement: Utilize and encourage new business models based on global best practices following disasters.
Led by co-chairs Congressman Tom Reed and Josh Gottheimer, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus consists of 24 democrats and 24 republicans.