Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Tom Reed

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said Tuesday he remained confident that a compromise coronavirus relief bill including his top three priorities is possible despite the $1 trillion Senate Republican proposal.

He said his top priorities are child care, local government relief and a revised federal unemployment benefit.

House Democrats approved the $3 trillion HEROES Act more than two months ago. Asked if he was disappointed it had taken so long, Reed replied: “If I were running the trains, I wouldn’t do it this way. We’re not leaving until it gets done.”

At the end of this week, the $600 weekly federal unemployment bonus expires without quick action by Congress and approval by President Trump.

The Senate Republican bill would cut that to $200 a week. Reed said he wants the maximum benefit to total a percentage of their pre-layoff income. In the past, he has talked about a total of 70%. Reed said he considers the $600 weekly federal bonus payment a disincentive for someone to return to work.

Reed said the revised federal unemployment bonus would serve as an incentive to go back to work despite high unemployment in the district.

“The (unemployment) numbers are getting better,” he said.

The $600-a-week bump left many unemployed people making more than when they were working. “The $600 situation has become a real barrier to getting people back to work,” he added.

Reed said he and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., the co-chairman of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, had introduced the bipartisan Child Care Relief Act, which Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has introduced in the Senate.

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The bill would offer up to nine months of assistance to child care providers so they know they can remain in business, Reed said. Parents have to know they will have safe childcare available when they go back to work.

Reed said up to $15 billion would be available to child care operators nationwide under the bill that seeks to provide a safe environment for children’s return.

Reed said he liked the fact Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dropped a bill, which he described as “moving in a positive direction.”

There’s no money in the GOP bill for state and local governments.

“I’m still very confident we’ll be able to get this taken care of,” Reed told reporters on his weekly press call. “It might bleed over into next week.”

Reed said he would favor a $1.5 trillion package, half of the HEROES bill passed by Democrats, but containing $500 billion for state and local governments. “That’s a lot of money.”

The Corning Republican said he felt “enough members on both sides of the aisle will need local and state aid to be in the bill to support it.”

A compromise bill will get 60-70 votes in the Senate and 218 Democratic votes in the House, Reed predicted.

The expiration of bonus unemployment will place leverage on the Senate and House to reach a compromise. “They wait until the last minute and run everything up to the edge of the cliff,” he said. “I wish they wouldn’t do it.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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