Lee among bipartisan group hoping to break stimulus impasse

Lee at the post office
Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee making remarks in front of a Las Vegas post office in August. (Photo: Lee's congressional office).
Lee at the post office
Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee making remarks in front of a Las Vegas post office in August. (Photo: Lee’s congressional office).

A $1,200 check for everybody and at least $450 in federal unemployment benefits through January.

Those are a couple of the items in a bipartisan proposal designed to break the stimulus relief impasse in Washington 

With few signs that talks between the Senate and House on fresh relief legislation are going anywhere, a group of 50 centrist House members — 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats calling themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus – unveiled a roughly $1.5 trillion “framework” Tuesday.

In addition to the check and revived unemployment benefits, the group, which includes Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee, proposes:

  • $500 billion to help state and local governments 
  • $400 billion for election support
  • $145 billion for schools and child care
  • $100 billion for health care, including $25 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing
  • $95 billion in new Paycheck Protection Program funding (as well as $145 billion in PPP reappropriated from earlier relief legislation)
  • $52 billion to support broadband access, agricultural assistance and the U.S. Postal Service
  • $25 billion for rental assistance
  • $11 billion to enhance the Women, Infants and Children and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs

The proposal’s $1.5 trillion cost is less than half what was called for in the “HEROES Act” passed by the House in May, which landed in the Republican controlled Senate with an audible thud. 

A so-called “skinny relief” bill proposed by Senate Republicans was thwarted last week by Democrats, who dismissed it as wholly inadequate on a policy level and merely a ploy to give Republicans political cover in an election year. The Senate bill included $300 billion in new funding, and reappropriated $350 billion from earlier relief legislation.

Lee described the proposal she and her colleagues unveiled Tuesday as “an objective, bipartisan guideline to get leaders to return to the table, and get a deal done.”

Noting the especially harsh pain the pandemic has inflicted on Nevadans and the Nevada economy, Lee said “families, small businesses, and communities cannot wait until 2021 for action.”

Several House Democrats, including committee chairs, reportedly dismissed the proposal as inadequate.

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to recess early in October so they can campaign. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House would not leave without a bill.

In a tweet Wednesday, President Trump called on Republicans to “go for much higher numbers” on a stimulus bill.

“We look forward to hearing from the President’s negotiators,” Pelosi and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded.

Like many members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, Lee is in a competitive congressional districts — she is one of about 30 Democratic House members representing a district, Nevada’s 3rd, that Donald Trump won in 2016. She is facing Republican challenger Dan Rodimer in November.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.