WASHINGTON — While a new COVID-19 package proposed by Tom Reed and The Problem Solvers Caucus has been rejected by several key Democratic committee members, a Reed spokesman told WNYNews Now the package still has a life.
The spokesman said late Wednesday morning there is still support and that the bipartisan package has created the momentum to get something done.
He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said lawmakers won’t leave Washington until a package is done, which he called a change in her previous stance.
House leaders said the package, a bipartisan attempt to kick start negotiations, was rejected because it “leaves to many needs unmet”.
Democrat Steny Hoyer said the caucus plan did not address helping the economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
“We believe that getting to a compromise is absolutely essential,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “Getting to a compromise that does not deal with the problems, however, is not useful, because the longer you delay addressing many of the problems, the greater you weaken both the economy and the response to COVID-19.”
Pelosi said the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver a better relief package.
The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, unveiled its “March To Common Ground” framework to attempt to break the gridlock on the latest COVID-19 relief package and encourage negotiators to get back to the table.
The 50-member bipartisan Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Reed, developed and came together in support of the framework after extensive listening to constituents and outreach to stakeholders over the past six weeks.
The package addresses key areas of need, including COVID-19 testing, unemployment insurance, direct stimulus, worker and liability protection, small business and non-profit support, food security, schools and child care, housing, election support, and state and local aid.
The framework is designed for a six month horizon and through the next inauguration, except for state and local funding which extends for a full year.
Depending on the severity of the pandemic and if a successful vaccination program is adopted by March, 2021, a system of automatic “boosters” are designed to incrementally increase the amount of relief to individuals and families. Conversely, a system of “reducers” will decrease the total cost of the package.
The framework calls for both new stimulus money and the reallocation of previously appropriated “CARES Act” funding, and allocates resources to the following key categories: Testing & Healthcare ($100 Billion), Direct Assistance to Individuals & Families ($316 Billion), Unemployment Assistance ($120 Billion), Small Business & Non-profit Support ($290 Billion), School and Child Care ($145 Billion), State and Local Aid ($500.3 Billon), Election Support ($400 Billion), Broadband, Agriculture, USPS and Census ($52 Billion).
“Americans deserve a functioning Congress that can rise to the challenge and deliver the relief they need,” said PSC Co-Chair Reed. “Our framework reflects months of bipartisan consensus-building on the actions the federal government can take to help working families and local communities across the country as they navigate the impacts of COVID-19. We are hopeful this package will help bring lead negotiations back to the table as we try to solve this problem for the American people.”