WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan group of U.S. House members — 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats — are trying to prove Congress can function in the midst of a crisis.
What You Need To Know
- Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus released $1.5 trillion proposal on Tuesday
- Ohio Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez spoke at unveiling
- Congressional leaders remain divided over path ahead on COVID relief
“If you could just be on these calls, if you could just hear the spirit with which we negotiate, you wouldn’t be able to figure out, in most instances, is this a Republican or Democrat? You’d just be hearing people trying to solve a problem and trying to move the country forward,” Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R, 16th Congressional District) said at a Tuesday press conference.
Gonzalez, a northeast Ohio Republican, and fellow members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus released a $1.5 trillion coronavirus relief proposal Tuesday that they call the “March to Common Ground.”
The goal is to convince congressional leadership like Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to actually compromise on pandemic relief — a topic Washington has been stalled on for several months.
“We do not have allegiance to our party leaders,” said New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose. "That’s not why we’re here. We’re here to serve this great nation and we’re here to show the American people that government can work again.”
The proposal would revive federal unemployment benefits, send out another round of $1,200 direct payments, and funnel billions of dollars to a list that includes testing, rental assistance, the small business Paycheck Protection Program, schools, local governments, and more.
“I think that leadership has put themselves in boxes that they can’t get out of and they see this, potentially, as a vehicle to come out of the box and get back together and really find common ground,” Gonzalez said in an interview after Tuesday’s press conference. “That’s what everybody wants us to do.”
Congress and the White House haven’t been able to agree on a next step since the spring. Democratic leadership has been calling for another package worth at least $2.2 trillion, while Republican leadership has been asking for $500 billion.
Gonzalez said taxpayers expect, and deserve, a compromise.
“Every time I go out, every time I meet with a veterans group or I meet with a chamber of commerce or I meet with anybody in my district, they tell me, ‘What is wrong with you guys? We still need help. We’re not even close to being out of this thing,’” Gonzalez said. “And so, when you have that much pressure on members of Congress, I think it creates the dynamic for a deal.”
Two other Ohio Republicans, Rep. Bill Johnson (R, 6th Congressional District) and Rep. Dave Joyce (R, 14th Congressional District), are also members of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
Speaker Pelosi announced Tuesday that the House would stay in session until another deal is reached. No word yet on if the Senate will do the same.