In a last-ditch attempt to pass some kind of economic stimulus package before the November election, a group of 50 bipartisan House members calling themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus unveiled a middle-ground proposal to help Americans and businesses still struggling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Although the plan, dubbed “March to Common Ground,” includes policies that have broad public support—more stimulus checks, childcare, extra unemployment benefits, and the like—it doesn’t have much hope of passing in its current form. Here’s what you need to know:
What’s in this plan?
The proposal would spend up to $2 trillion, making it far smaller than the HEROES Act passed by the Democratic-controlled House in May and larger than the so-called skinny package unveiled by Senate Republicans last week. The key items include:
- Aid for states and local governments ($500.3 billion)
- Money for COVID testing and healthcare ($100 billion)
- Direct payments to families and individuals ($316 billion)
- New unemployment funds ($120 billion)
- Help for small businesses and nonprofits ($290 billion)
- Help for schools and childcare ($145 billion)
- Support for the election ($400 billion)
- Support for broadband, agriculture, USPS, and the Census ($52 billion)
This all sounds great. What’s the problem?
Top Democrats say the plan doesn’t go far enough. Leaders of eight House committees released a joint statement saying, “While we appreciate every attempt at providing critical relief to American families, the Problem Solvers Caucus’ proposal falls short of what is needed to save lives and boost the economy.”
So the bill is pointless?
Maybe not entirely. It could still be used as a framework for a future compromise. Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, called the proposal “useful” as lawmakers try to figure out a way to move forward, according to the Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with CNBC yesterday that the House was committed to staying in session until a deal is reached, but the clock is ticking, and the election is now only 48 days away.
Where can I read this full proposal?
The full details are here.