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Federal Government

Posted on: September 21, 2020

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Look to Break Coronavirus Logjam

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives’ bi-partisan Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) released the March to Common Ground, a framework for COVID relief designed to reignite negotiations on a critically important Coronavirus Relief bill.

The 50-member Problem Solvers Caucus includes 25 Democratic and 25 Republican Members of the House. Co-chaired by New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer and New York’s Tom Reed, the group was formed to advance bipartisan, common sense solutions to difficult problems by breaking partisan gridlock. “The PSC,” the group says, “is committed to demonstrating cooperative, bipartisan leadership at a time our country needs it most.”

Recognizing that “State and local governments have been severely impacted by COVID-19,both by incremental and unplanned direct costs and by the loss of tax and fee revenue integral to the provision of services and payment of employees,” the March to Common Ground framework would, among other priorities, dedicate $500.3 billion for state and local budget support. That would include:

  • $130 billion remaining from the CARES Act, for flexible use on documented past state and local Covid expenses.
  • $130 billion in new money for documented, future state and local Covid expenses (through 2021).
  • $120.3 billion in new money for documented local general revenue shortfalls (through 2021).
  • $250 billion in new money for documented state general revenue shortfalls (through 2021).
  • Tribal and territorial government allocations.

The framework does not specify how the local aid would be distributed. We have a call into Congressman Gottheimer’s office for details, as we need to know that the aid would be direct, and to all municipalities, regardless of population levels.

The White House has indicated a willingness to discuss this proposal. However, leaders of both Senate Republicans and House Democrats have expressed objections to the initiative. Senate Republicans say it’s too expensive, while House Democrats say it would be an insufficient response to the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, jmoran@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x121.

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