Rep. Tom Reed joined with his bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus colleagues — 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans — to unveil a $1.5 trillion COVID-19 rescue package to help break the gridlock and encourage negotiators to get back to the table.
The 50-member bipartisan Caucus, led by co-chairs Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Reed, R-Corning, developed the framework for the rescue package after listening to constituents, organizations and agencies over the past six weeks.
Reed said Tuesday 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.
Caucus members said 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.
“Americans deserve a functioning Congress that can rise to the challenge and deliver the relief they need,” Reed said in press release. “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.”
Depending on the severity of the pandemic and if a successful vaccination program is adopted by March, 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 and healthcare, $100 billion.
• Direct assistance to individuals and families, $316 billion.
• Unemployment assistance, $120 billion.
• Small business and non-profit support, $290 billion.
• School and child care, $145 billion.
• State and local aid, $500.3 billion.
• Election support, $400 billion.
• Broadband, agriculture, U.S. Postal Service and census support, $52 billion.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid.
“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC.
The Associated Press reported Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on a morning conference call that “we have to stay here until we have a bill.” That’s according to a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity but authorized to quote her remarks.
The move highlighted the extent to which coronavirus legislation has settled into a kind of suspended animation in the final legislative weeks before the November election. Both parties insist they want action, keeping the idea of new relief alive, but negotiations between Democrats and the White House remain frozen, with both sides entrenched in their positions.