Reed leads Problem Solvers Caucus in seeking vote on $160B COVID-19 package

As broader bipartisan talks and the reconciliation process continues, Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Tom Reed (R-NY) led the 56-member bipartisan caucus in requesting an immediate vote on the standalone, $160 billion Defeating COVID-19 vaccine distribution package.

“We continue to support ongoing, bipartisan talks for a targeted stimulus package. Unfortunately, regardless of whether stimulus goes the way of bipartisanship or reconciliation, it is clear either path will take time,” Rep. Reed said. “We simply do not have time to spare when the lives of the American people are at stake as new variants of the virus are emerging daily.”

The congressman added that lawmakers “must unite and act now in support of vaccines” by quickly increasing federal funding for testing, vaccine distribution, and other key initiatives.

“We can get more shots in arms, safely reopen our economy, and finally defeat this virus,” said Rep. Reed. “Congress and the Biden administration must work together to immediately pass this vaccine-boosting package and prioritize the health and safety of the American people.”

If enacted, the package would authorize $20 billion for a National Vaccine Program in partnership with states, tribes, and territories; $50 billion to expand testing; $30 billion to set up a federal Disaster Relief Fund; $5 billion for Title III of the Defense Production Act; $5 billion for PPE for first responders, independent physicians offices, and dentists; $15 billion to rebuild and restock the National Strategic Stockpile; and $35 billion for the Provider Relief Fund with 20 percent set aside for rural hospitals.

The package shares similarities with the vaccine portion of the Direct COVID Pandemic Response portion of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan and ongoing negotiations, according to Rep. Reed’s office.

“The emergency COVID-19 relief package that the Problem Solvers Caucus helped negotiate this past December was a down payment on what our nation needed,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). “Unless a new bipartisan deal is struck, I will continue to support the reconciliation process for more COVID-19 relief.”

Problem Solvers Caucus Vice Chair Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) noted that while he fully supports the bipartisan efforts for more COVID relief, he agreed that the nation “simply cannot afford to wait any longer to get vaccines in the arms of our citizens.”

“Our bipartisan, bicameral $160 billion Defeating COVID-19 vaccine distribution package will immediately boost vaccine deployment, expand testing programs and PPE purchases, and other key initiatives critical to beating this virus and allow us to safely reopen our economy nationwide,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick.

U.S. Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Tom Rice (R-SC), also caucus members, concurred, calling on the Biden administration and their fellow colleagues in Congress to work together and immediately pass the package.