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Legislative Updates

Bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus Announces Compromise Relief Framework

Following a complete breakdown in negotiations between the House, Senate and White House over the next relief package, a group of 50 bipartisan House members known as the Problem Solvers Caucus announced a $1.5 trillion framework in the hopes of drawing leadership back to the table to compromise. 

The House HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), which passed the House three months ago, would provide $3.5 trillion in relief, while the last Senate package, which failed to advance in the Senate, would have provided $650 billion in relief. 

For the Postal Service, the Problem Solvers Caucus suggests providing $15 billion in relief to help the Postal Service with Covid-19-related losses. In comparison, the HEROES Act would provide $25 billion, more favorable terms for the $10 billion loan approved in the CARES Act, and hazard pay for letter carriers. In contrast, the recently failed Senate package would have simply converted the $10 billion loan into a grant to be accessed when Postal Service funds dip below $8 billion. 

The plan would extend expired unemployment benefits to $450 per week for eight weeks then increase it to $600 per week capped at 100 percent of their lost wages, expiring January 31, 2021. The proposal would provide state and local governments with $400 million for election assistance, and $500 billion for state and local governments for Covid-related losses and expenses. 

Americans would receive another round of stimulus payment based at $1,200 for adults and $500 per child. In an attempt to find a compromise between the House and Senate, Problems Solvers suggests providing funding for in-person or virtual learning for schools, universities, child-care, additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance for small businesses, contact tracing and testing, loan forgiveness for Medicare providers, rural broadband, Supplemental Food and Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC), student loan assistance, and agricultural assistance. 

The Problem Solvers Caucus is led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY), and the caucus is comprised of moderates from both parties who thrive on finding common ground on complex issues. The group was instrumental in the vote to repeal the mandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits via H.R. 2382. The Problem Solvers announcement is a positive development and hopefully one that will break the gridlock on negotiations. The next step will be the introduction of language from the Caucus. NALC will continue to monitor all progress on all relief packages and proposals to ensure that the Postal Service relief is included.

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