A key negotiator in the bipartisan group of lawmakers that crafted the $908 billion framework for a new COVID-19 relief bill said Thursday that direct stimulus payments likely won’t be added to the new package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have endorsed the bipartisan framework proposed by the House Problem Solvers Caucus and a group of senators as a basis for negotiations for a relief package that could be voted on before the end of this year.
New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed, co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, was asked on Thursday if he wants direct payments added to the $908 billion framework.
“Direct payments were discussed, they were in prior packages, but they weren’t in this package, because just consensus couldn’t be reached at this point in time given where folks were at,” Reed told Just the News. “And so that being the case, you take what you can, and $908 billion without the direct payments is where the 80%, 75% consensus was. And so you have to move on.
“To me, you know, the direct payments was not as much of a priority, as was the Paycheck Protection Program, the unemployment benefits, the other assistance buckets that were in there, when it comes to things like housing and food security issues, and things like that, so that they all dovetail with each other to provide that assistance that the direct dollars would have otherwise taken care of.”
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, co-chair of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, was also asked if he wants direct payments added into the bipartisan framework.
“There’s things we’d all like more of, but the bottom line is we believe … so many of the priorities that we all care about and the values we believe in and fight for are in this $908 [billion],” he said during a press conference on Thursday. “I believe that’s going to be what we’re going to fight for in the next days is to be able to make sure that’s what happens.”
According to members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, the formal language, based on the bipartisan framework, is being drafted and will be presented at at later date.
Reed said he doesn’t see anything else being added into the package beyond the $908 billion framework that was unveiled earlier this week.
“I don’t think there’s much negotiation beyond this, you know, maybe some fine-tuning of the package, but no significant negotiations plus or minus,” he said.
Asked whether he thinks items that Schumer and Pelosi support might be added to the existing bipartisan proposal, Reed replied: “Given the nature of how long it took us to get to this position in a bipartisan way and what it took to get folks to move from the right to the left, and from the left to the right, I just don’t see any substantial movement, maybe some fine-tuning of it, but other than that, I think we’re in the sweet spot. We’re in the zone.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who worked on the bipartisan relief package framework, said direct payments might instead be part of a stimulus bill next year under a Biden administration.
“Hopefully that will happen when Joe Biden becomes president,” Manchin said.