Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus Unveils COVID-19 Stimulus Framework
Earlier this week, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC), comprised of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans from the House, unveiled its “March To Common Ground” framework to help break the gridlock on the latest COVID-19 relief package and encourage negotiators to get back to the table.
The package addresses key areas of need, including COVID-19 testing, unemployment insurance, direct stimulus, worker and liability protection, small business and non-profit support, food security, schools and child care, housing, election support, and state and local aid.
In light of the urgent needs facing millions of Americans, families, and small businesses, the 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” are designed to incrementally increase the amount of relief to individuals and families. Conversely, a system of “reducers” will decrease the total cost of the package.
A Summary of the Proposed Framework
- $280 billion in funding for $1,200 stimulus checks plus $500 per child plus dependent adults.
- The PSC’s framework includes $100 billion of additional health care spending – testing and contact tracing, healthcare provider support, and forgiveness of Medicare loans to providers.
- $11 billion would go to enhance WIC and SNAP through March and July 2o21 respectively. (WIC is a nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children. SNAP is commonly called “food stamps”).
- There is $25 billion for rental assistance, rent stabilization and an eviction moratorium through January 2021 and student loan forbearance through December 31, 2020.
- The unemployment provision is $450 per week for an eight-week transition period. That is followed up by up to $600 per week but not to exceed 100% of previous wage for thirteen weeks through January 2021.
- Reappropriating $145 billion of PPP money and adding $95 billion in new money with simplified forgiveness and $50 billion for the Employee Retention Credit.
- $145 billion for schools and child care.
- Half a trillion in aid to state, local, territorial and tribal governments and
- $400 million for election security.
The proposed framework would include automatic reducers and boosters depending on how things go based on Covid-19 hospitalization metrics and vaccine progress. If things get better more quickly PPP, state and local aid and renters assistance could be carved back by as much as $200 billion.
Alternatively, if things get worse, the framework’s “boosters” include a 3-month extension on the unemployment benefits starting in February 2021 and another $280 billion for automatic stimulus checks in March 2021.
Meanwhile, Congress is expected to focus in the coming weeks on passing legislation funding the government beyond Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
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