Frustrated with the stalemate on a new coronavirus relief package, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus has assembled a roughly $1.5 trillion framework intended as a last-ditch effort to spur negotiations before Congress leaves Washington for the election season.
The plan, led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY), is designed for a six-month horizon and includes both new money and reallocation of unspent CARES Act funding. It would address key areas of need including direct stimulus payments to individuals, COVID-19 testing, enhanced unemployment benefits, small business loans, schools, election support, U.S. Postal Service and state and local aid.
The framework is supported by over 75 percent of the 50-member Problem Solvers Caucus, comprised of 25 House Democrats and 25 House Republicans. “Americans deserve a functioning Congress that can rise to the challenge and deliver the relief they need,” Reed said. “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.”
Though issued as a framework with no legislative text as yet, the PSC plan is intended to get GOP and Democratic negotiators back to the table to work out a deal. The plan does not specifically call for expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include 501(c)(6) organizations as ASAE has called for, but Reed and 21 other caucus members are co-sponsors of separate legislation (H.R. 6697) introduced earlier this year that would expand PPP eligibility to 501(c)(6) entities with fewer than 300 employees.
It’s unclear at this point what impact the PSC framework will have on the stalled negotiations, but it includes provisions that are likely to meet opposition from Senate Republicans, including the state and local aid and additional money for the U.S. Postal Service and election support.