PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS RELEASE HEALTH CRISIS & ECONOMIC REVIVAL PACKAGE
WASHINGTON - Today, Thursday, March 19, 2020, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus – 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans -- released a package of policy recommendations to help address the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The Problem Solvers Caucus believes we must set aside partisanship and work together to help solve this national emergency.
The bipartisan Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Tom Reed (NY-23), have presented their recommendations to Congressional leadership and the White House as options for immediate consideration in the next phase(s) of Coronavirus response.
The Caucus' proposed recommendations include:
1. Economic Response for Businesses, Employees and the Self-Employed
- Immediate, Direct Financial Payments to Individuals: Limited only to the crisis, significantly increase unemployment insurance benefits, including payment amounts, for hourly and salaried workers, under a certain income threshold. This relief should focus on mid-to-low-income workers and furloughed workers. Provisions to be made for freelancers and the self-employed to ensure the same relief.
- Bridge Loans to Help Keep Businesses in Business: Low-or-zero-interest loans to businesses of all sizes willing to keep their employees (furlough, but preserving benefits) in their positions during the coronavirus crisis. Must include long-term repayment options, and not exclude any industries.
- Allow Individuals and Businesses to Defer Mortgage Payments and Rent: During the national crisis, stay all foreclosure and evictions proceedings.
- Contract and Insurance Protections for Existing Contract and Business Insurance Policies: Legislatively declare the coronavirus a public health crisis, and, as such, a qualifying event for all existing force majeure contract provisions and business interruption insurance policies.
- Loan Deferral and Forbearance: Develop and allow loan deference, modification, and forbearance mechanisms for individuals and businesses of all sizes, during the crisis (e.g. mortgages, lines of credits, student loans, and other qualifying loans).
- Refundable Tax Credit to Employers for Employee Retention: During the crisis, provide immediately advanceable, refundable tax credits for employee retention by employers -- including maintaining employment status or providing benefits for furloughed employees.
2. Health Care & Food Security Needs
- Speed Testing to Market: Provide additional regulatory relief at FDA and CDC for market-based testing solutions and essential supplies (e.g. testing kits, ventilators, PPEs, reagent supply, and hospital conversion).
- Childcare Enhancement: Reflecting new work and school environment, enact childcare assistance policies and regulatory relief to provide childcare coverage during term of crisis.
- Price Gouging: Enact applicable measures to strictly enforce anti-price gouging measures.
- Medical Personnel and Supplies: Where available, deploy federal government excess medical personnel and equipment capacity, including military sources (e.g. vents), to affected areas needing service.
- GI Benefits: Correct the technical glitch, so that, during this time of crisis, veterans can utilize GI benefits for online learning.
3. Infrastructure Investment: Passage of a significant infrastructure package which would stimulate job growth and allow for borrowing at historically-low interest rates.
"This bold, bipartisan package will help provide immediate relief to New Jersey families during this crisis — to address the health crisis and revive our economy, said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer. “Congress must act urgently to further protect our residents, communities, and businesses in Northern New Jersey and across our country. Right now, more than ever, we must come together, and work together, as one nation. This virus does not see gender, religion, race — or political party.”
“It’s always better for the country when we act together. The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus’ ‘Heath Crisis and Economic Revival Package’ provides Congressional Leadership and the Administration tools to continue solving the Coronavirus emergency and ensures the revival of the U.S. economy when it is over. Together, we must see the light through the darkness,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Tom Reed.
“Our workers, families, and small businesses need help now. The economic effects of this crisis will be felt long after it is gone, and we need to help everyone that we can,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “They need commonsense solutions to help get through this crisis, and I’m proud to join the Problem Solvers in crafting this bipartisan legislation.”
“To combat this health and economic crisis, Congress must act with a sense of urgency. The virus doesn’t care what party you belong to, which is why Problem Solvers are continuing to set aside partisanship and once again joining forces to help American families and businesses,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy. “There are many good ideas in our list of recommendations, including the initiative I’m leading to provide a tax credit to employers who retain and pay employees rather than lay them off. This Employee Retention Tax Credit will support businesses who support their workers.”
“The Problem Solvers’ proposal is a commonsense, bipartisan package that would provide critical assistance to workers and families and help businesses large and small mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus,” said Rep. Fred Upton. “This is about trying to put humpty dumpty back together again. All options should be on the table as we work to protect the wellbeing of the American people and economy. This bold plan does both. Our nation is facing a generational challenge, and the package we put together will help us overcome this crisis and rally once it’s over.”
"As we combat the coronavirus pandemic, we must be thinking of what families need now and what they will need most in the future,” said Rep. Salud Carbajal. “Our Problem Solvers Caucus coronavirus response plan prioritizes our communities by increasing financial assistance for individuals, providing resources for small businesses, ensuring families won't go hungry, enhancing childcare, advancing testing, creating supports for future job growth and more. Now is the time to act boldly, we must move this bipartisan plan forward."
“This is an unprecedented public health challenge that will have very real and immediate effects on all Americans and the global economy, and it is up to each and every one of us worldwide to do our part in addressing and responding to the Coronavirus,” said Rep. Paul Mitchell. “It is the duty of elected officials to advance direct and targeted support for individuals and businesses adversely impacted by this pandemic and that is why I support the proposals put forward by the Problem Solvers Caucus.”
“We need to put politics aside and work together to address this pandemic,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi. “We are all Americans first and Congress needs to continue to respond in a bipartisan manner to protect consumers, small businesses, health care workers, and our communities. These actions are a good starting off point that show bipartisan consensus. We are just starting this fight and I’ll work with anyone to make sure America comes out stronger than ever.”
“The American people expect their elected representatives to work together during times like this,” said Rep. Bill Johnson. “With this legislation, that's exactly what the Problem Solvers Caucus is doing. I am especially proud to have included a provision in this proposed legislation ensuring that our veterans will be able to continue using their GI benefits if their school program temporarily shifts to online learning. I heard directly from several veterans that I represent that a fix is needed, and I acted quickly. As it currently stands, many would lose their benefits, which could include: monthly housing allowance, book stipends and tuition. That is not acceptable, and we absolutely must take care of our heroes.”
“During this time it is paramount that we put politics aside and come together for the American people,” said Rep. Steve Watkins. “Problems solvers do this every day, and I am proud of our work in developing a bipartisan response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“At this critical moment in our nation’s history, we must set aside politics and rise to the occasion with bold solutions,” said Rep. Dean Phillips. “This bipartisan, Problem Solvers package delivers relief directly to hard-working people and small businesses, and will help restart the economy once we emerge from the crisis. I will continue to seek, investigate, and propose actionable ideas and work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure an effective response from Congress.”
“Washington state has been ground zero for the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., and the folks I represent need all of the emergency relief and public health resources represented by the Problem Solvers Caucus response package,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. “There remains much more to do to manage the health needs and economic hardship we’re confronting here in Southwest Washington, and I know my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the Problem Solvers Caucus will continue working together to provide solutions.”
“To best address the challenges the country is facing during this public health emergency, Republicans and Democrats are going to have to come together, much like we do as members of the Problem Solvers Caucus,” said Rep. G.T. Thompson. “This is not a time for one political party versus another—this is a time for America united against the threat of COVID-19.”
“The Problem-Solvers Caucus is putting a number of good bipartisan ideas on the table, to help support public health and economic recovery,” said Rep. Ben McAdams. “We must be looking five moves ahead right now so that the extent of the harm to our medical providers, businesses and their employees, and our economy is minimized.”
“This is an unprecedented time for our country,” said Rep. Dave Joyce. “It is critical that Congress remains committed to putting forward an aggressive response that equips our communities with the tools they need to address the COVID-19 outbreak and the growing health and financial crisis it is causing. Pathogens don’t care about party lines. We must continue to work across the aisle to provide Americans and their families with the resources necessary to tackle the health and economic challenges ahead.”
"Congress has passed two robust funding packages to start getting families, workers, and small businesses the immediate relief they need, but there's work left to do,” said Rep. Susie Lee. “There are people in need who still don't have access to testing, frontline health care workers who don't have the supplies they need, small businesses that have been forced to close their doors, and working families who have lost their jobs or paychecks and still need guaranteed protections. We need to take every necessary step to prepare our communities and our economy for the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the only way we're going to do that is by working together. That's why I joined the Problem Solvers Caucus in the first place, and there's no more important time than right now to practice what we preach."
“Round three has to be about taking care of the employee and employer, who through no fault of their own is affected by this,” said Rep. Don Bacon. “We need to make sure people have their jobs once this is all over.”
"There is broad agreement in important areas about what the American people need to get through this crisis and recover on the other side of it, and these recommendations can help ground our response in those shared priorities,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising 48 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).