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Reed's 'Problem Solvers' On the Verge of Major Victory With COVID Relief Bill

TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) - A bipartisan group of House and Senate members called "The Problem Solvers" has presented the text for two COVID-19 relief bills, totaling$908 billion.

The larger bill is for immediate, emergency relief and amounts to $748 billion in aid. It includes $300 a week of unemployment benefits for 16 weeks, housing support to prevent evictions, assistance to food banks, and student loan provisions. It's intended to provide support until some time in April.

Another bill for $160 billion links aid to state, local and tribal governments to an agreement on liability protections for employers.

The liability protection provisions have become the major sticking point in negotiations between parties.

"Fundamental to this conversation is fairness. Fairness to the business that is making a good faith effort to protect customers and workers and fairness to the victim who without a day in court, if they are wronged or hurt, cannot get compensation," said Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Among the group was Southern Tier Republian Representative Tom Reed and his Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair, Josh Gottheimer from northern New Jersey.

"The Problem Solvers Caucus remains eager to find a singular comprehensive $908 billion dollar package that includes all the language and priorities we’ve agreed to in the $748 billion dollar bill plus the $160 billion bill for state and local and tribal governments with liability and worker protections," said Gottheimer.

Everyone in this group said they will stay in Washington and continue work to resolve differences in the state and local aid bill.

Sen. Durbin said there is no excuse for further delay and congressional leadership should put the other, larger bill with $748 billion in aid to a floor vote this week.