Leaders of the House Problem Solver Caucus on Friday expressed optimism that Republicans and Democrats will meet soon on a major coronavirus deal to continue to receive additional unemployment benefits, help small businesses in difficulty and finance the reopening of schools.
Reps Tom Reed, RN.Y., and Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., predict a deal will come within days. Negotiators are under pressure to act amid the $ 600-a-week federal unemployment benefits expiration Friday, schools need help reopening this month and lawmakers wanting to preserve their August break.
“I think we’ll get there next week,” Gottheimer said in an interview with Fox News on Friday. “… With the arrival of the Senate this week, that is really when I believe it will be negotiated and I assume (the House) will come back at the end of the week to vote. ”
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Reed said he was confident White House and House and Senate negotiators would find common ground between the House’s $ 3 trillion bill passed in May and the $ 1 trillion proposal. from the Senate GOP which was unveiled this week.
“Obviously we have to make a deal,” Reed told Fox News. “To do nothing is a disservice to the American people. The institution of Congress is better than that. ”
Reed and Gottheimer have a knack for finding bipartisan solutions as co-chairs of the 50-member caucus, equally split between Republicans and Democrats. The Problem Solvers Caucus already released a checklist in April on how to safely reopen the economy.
Their optimism about a deal stems from the gravity of the economic and health crisis and pressure from lawmakers to act quickly.
“It’s amazing when the deadline comes the Beltway will respond and put a bundle together,” Reed said of the often chaotic nature of last minute deals in Washington DC.
More than 30 million unemployed Americans will lose their extra payments of $ 600 per week starting Friday, putting additional pressure on jobless households. Meanwhile, small businesses and restaurants continue to suffer due to the economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic and the loss of capacity due to social distancing restrictions.
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“Given these realities, people are going to have to take action,” Gottheimer said. “I think both sides realize that there is no other choice. ”
While there are many differences between the House Democrats’ bill and the Republican plan, Reed and Gottheimer say they should find a bipartisan deal on funding state and local governments, additional support for loans to small businesses, another round of direct stimulus payments, restoring some level of additional unemployment benefits and helping to equip schools and campuses to reopen safely.
“Obviously we’ll have to find some kind of middle ground between all the teams here, but I’m really optimistic that we will get there,” said Gottheimer.
Reed predicts Democrats and Republicans will find a cost compromise, in part, by reprogramming some of the unused money from the $ 150 billion coronavirus relief fund for state and local governments and the protection program the $ 659 billion paycheck (PPP) for small businesses.
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On Friday, the White House and congressional negotiators appeared to be far apart on a deal, with both sides blaming the other for the deadlock.
But talks will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Capitol between White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senator Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.
Reed and Gottheimer both offered advice to their party leaders.
“Stay in the room,” they said.