BERKELEY, Calif. - Just as the White House and Congress seem too polarized to get a coronavirus relief bill done for the American people, there was a ray of bipartisan light Tuesday.
Frustration over the failure to craft a federal coronavirus relief bill by the White House and Congressional Democratic and Republican leaders prompted a bipartisan group of moderates to announce they've reached their own compromise proposal after six weeks of talks.
The Problem Solvers Caucus is made up of 25 House Democrats and 25 House Republicans. They said their proposal is a framework for finding common ground to help the American people as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take lives and livelihoods.
Their $1.5 trillion dollar proposal lands in between the House Democrats' $3.4 trillion relief bill that passed in May and the Senate Republican's $300 billion dollar plan that failed to pass last week.
The Problem Solvers Caucus has 25 House Democrats and 25 House Republicans led by Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Congressman Tom Reed of New York.
"They're typically people who are in districts that could go either Democratic or Republican, so a lot of them are concerned with more centrist policies," said political science professor Henry Brady, Dean of the U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. Brady says the proposal has elements that could appeal to both parties' leadership.
The proposal calls for more than $300 billion in direct aid to individuals and families, including another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, plus rent assistance and food aid.
Another $290 billion would help small businesses and non-profits and $100 billion would help with coronavirus testing, tracing, and health care.
The plan also lists funds to help the postal service, agriculture, schools, and childcare providers, as well as election aid.
Brady says one deal-breaker for Republicans might be the $500 billion for state and local governments.
"There's a lot of help for state and local governments and the question is whether Mitch McConnel is going to go for that," said Brady.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she would keep the House in session until a relief bill passes.
With Election Day just seven weeks away, Brady says President Trump and Congress likely are calculating the political costs of not providing relief to American voters.
"Mr. Trump's in a difficult position. On the one hand he wants to say the economy is picking up and he's rebuilding it. On the other hand, he really has to face the prospect that in fact, there is 10% unemployment or more and a lot of people are still out of work," said Brady, "I think that's the question, whether the White House is going to see it as being strategically important and then try to make the case that it's doing everything it can to make sure the economy can move forward."
A group of Democratic committee leaders said Tuesday that they don't think the Problem Solvers Caucus plan goes far enough.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said he can't agree to the Democrats' price tag.
The Problem Solvers Caucus remains hopeful that their proposal will fulfill its title: The "March to Common Ground” framework.
LINK: Problem Solvers Caucus - "March to Common Ground" Relief Bill Proposal (Full Text)
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana