Bipartisan House group releases $1.5 trillion coronavirus relief plan

The 50-member, bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus on Tuesday released a $1.5 trillion COVID-19 aid package that they hope will help push congressional leaders and the White House toward a similar compromise.

The measure also gives the caucus members, many of whom are considered vulnerable for reelection this cycle, an opportunity to tell voters they offered a compromise and deflect blame for potential inaction on a new aid bill before the elections.

In arriving at $1.5 trillion, the Problem Solvers plan is almost exactly halfway between the $3.4 trillion bill the House passed in May and a $300 billion proposal Senate Republicans offered on the floor last week. Their proposal, however, includes automatic triggers based on hospitalization rates and progress towards vaccine development that could increase the cost by as much as $400 billion or reduce it by up to $200 billion.

The caucus officially endorsed the proposal, which requires support from at least 75 percent of its members, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. Problem Solvers co-chairmen Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Tom Reed, R-N.Y., kept party leaders apprised of the group’s work, but top Democrats at least have already made their displeasure known.

An unusual joint statement from several House Democratic committee leaders Tuesday afternoon said the bipartisan plan “falls short of what is needed to save lives and boost the economy.”

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