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Senators join members of Problem Solvers Caucus to offer $908B pandemic relief framework

Members of the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus joined several U.S. senators this week to unveil a bipartisan, bicameral $908 billion COVID-19 emergency relief framework that they hope lays the foundation for another stimulus package to support Americans and boost the nation’s economy.

The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), who was joined by seven caucus members, including U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and fellow caucus co-chairman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), to unveil the framework on Tuesday. Several senators joined them during the press conference on Capitol Hill, including U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“For far too long, working families, small businesses, local governments, critical healthcare providers, and school districts across America have been left wondering when Washington would stop the partisan bickering and pass a comprehensive stimulus package,” Rep. Reed said. “Now, we have a bipartisan, bicameral deal that directly addresses the needs of the nation and best positions the country for an effective rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s time to come together as proud Americans and get the job done.”

Sen. Collins on Dec. 2 tweeted: “It’s essential that we pass emergency relief for American families that are struggling, small businesses that are closing, & hospitals that are overwhelmed.”

The four-month framework would allocate $908 billion in total aid, including both new funding and the reallocation of previously appropriated Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The framework targets resources to numerous key categories, such as the Paycheck Protection Program ($288 billion); unemployment insurance ($180 billion); state, local and tribal governments ($160 billion); education funding ($82 billion); transportation ($45 billion); vaccine development, distribution, testing, and tracing ($16 billion); and the Healthcare Provider Relief Fund ($35 billion), among other areas.

Additionally, the framework would provide short-term federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits with the purpose of giving states time to develop their own response, according to a summary sheet provided by the lawmakers.

Sen. Collins said that lawmakers “worked night and day throughout the Thanksgiving recess” to develop the template.

“I am particularly pleased that this package includes funding for another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans, which has helped keep our small businesses afloat. In Maine alone, the PPP has helped sustain the jobs of 250,000 workers,” she said during the press conference.

Sen. Cassidy said that while developing the framework, Republicans and Democrats in both chambers got much of what they wanted and neither group got everything they wanted. “That combination reflects what Congress is supposed to do: reconcile priorities and deliver for the American people,” he said.

“Congress should not go home until we are able to get a COVID-19 deal passed and signed, delivering real help to those who need it most,” said Rep. Upton. “It’s time for us to step up, and our colleagues need to get behind this effort or out of the way.”

Sen. Manchin said that Americans need to know that members of Congress won’t leave their posts “until we get something accomplished.”

Other Problem Solvers Caucus members who helped develop the framework include U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), John Katko (R-NY), and Don Bacon (R-NE).

Ripon Advance News Service

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