As Congress returned Sept. 15, 2020, for its first full day back in session, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, joined the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in unveiling a proposed COVID-19 relief framework, to help break the gridlock on the latest COVID-19 relief package and encourage negotiators to get back to the table.
The 50-member bipartisan Caucus –– made up of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans –– developed the framework after extensive outreach to stakeholders and constituents over the past six weeks. The package addresses key areas of need, including COVID-19 testing, unemployment insurance, direct stimulus, small business and non-profit support, food security, schools and child care, housing, election support, and state and local aid.
“People are hope-hungry –– they are desperate for Congress to just do its job, and pass a bipartisan COVID relief bill,” Slotkin said at a Sept. 15 press conference announcing the proposal. “I’m thrilled to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle today to announce this bipartisan framework that should allow people to put their egos aside and come together in a room to negotiate on a deal. That is our job, that is our mandate.”
“I hope very much that leadership hears us in the Senate, the House, and the White House,” Slotkin continued. “None of us want to go back to our constituents and say that we didn’t try, that we didn’t do everything we could. Because they, at home, are doing everything they can: our teachers, our community leaders, our business leaders –– they are suffering and they are doing everything they can think of to weather this crisis, so it’s incumbent upon us in Congress to do the same thing.”
“I’m proud of this group and what we’ve been able to come up with to outline a deal,” Slotkin added. “It ain’t perfect, and that’s the point. No deal is perfect for everybody. We wanted to demonstrate that you can still come together around legislation where you may not love every detail, but that you know is right for the country. That is our mission and our responsibility.”
In light of the urgent needs facing millions of Americans, families, and small businesses, the bipartisan framework is designed for a six-month horizon and through the next inauguration, except for state and local funding, which extends for a full year. Depending on the severity of the pandemic, and if a successful vaccination program is adopted by March 2021, a system of automatic “boosters” or “reducers” are designed to incrementally increase or decrease the total cost of the package.
The framework calls for both new stimulus money and the use of previously appropriated “CARES Act” funding, and allocates resources to the following key categories:
• Testing & Healthcare ($100B)
• Direct Assistance to Individuals & Families ($316B)
• Unemployment Assistance ($120B)
• Small Business & Non-profit Support ($290B)
• School & Child Care ($145B)
• State & Local Aid ($500.3B)
• Election Support ($400M)
• Broadband, Agriculture, USPS, & Census ($52B)
• Worker & Liability Protections
• Automatic Boosters & Reducers