The Problem Solvers Caucus, a 50-member bipartisan group in the House, released its “March To Common Ground” framework – a plan intended to “break the gridlock” in negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over a COVID-19 relief package.
The proposal would provide approximately $1.5 trillion in federal aid – an overall price tag between Republicans’ latest $650 billion “skinny package” and Democrats $2.2 trillion offer (about $1 trillion less than the House-passed Heroes Act).
Below is a summary of key health-related proposals:
- Health Care and Testing – Provides $100 billion for testing and health care, including $25 billion for testing and contact tracing, $30 billion for health care providers, and $45 billion for Medicare loan forgiveness
- Nutrition – Increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15 percent through July 2021 and increases Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits by 15 percent through March 2021
- State and Local Aid – Provides $500.3 billion in federal aid to states and localities (likely through the Coronavirus Relief Fund)
- Liability Protections – Enhances worker protections aligned with OSHA guidelines, but does not explicitly states liability protections would be provided.
Following the announcement, eight House Committee chairs issued a joint statement expressing their appreciation for PSC’s efforts but stated it fell short of what the country needs. “Unfortunately, today’s proposal retreats from these critical policies and fails to respond to additional issues that have emerged since May. When it comes to bolstering the public health system, supporting state and local governments, and assisting struggling families, the Problem Solvers’ proposal leaves too many needs unmet.”
Of note, President Trump, in a tweet, called on Republicans to seek a relief package with additional funding – above what they had previously offered.
The PSC proposal, along with the President’s new position, may help to restart the stalled negotiations.