Problem Solvers Caucus leader says COVID stimulus deal is 'within inches'

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Moody’s Analytics chief markets economist John Lonski on whether or not the U.S. needs another stimulus.

A leader of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus lamented the White House calling off coronavirus stimulus talks and urged leaders to get back to the negotiating table because a deal is within reach.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., urged President Trump and congressional leaders to continue to fight for a broad relief package, rather than a piecemeal deal.

"We are within inches of getting this done," Reed, R-N.Y., said Wednesday. "Let's not walk away now."

Reed and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., lead the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, which has been credited with reigniting coronavirus talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelos, D-Calif, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mncuchin after they released their own $1.5 trillion plan, which got a warm reception at the White House.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. lead the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

But shortly after leaving the hospital for treatment of coronavirus, President Trump tweeted that he was calling off the negotiations on a coronavirus stimulus package until after the election, instructing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to focus “full-time” on getting his nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court approved.

Reed lamented Trump's tweet because he believed a deal on a roughly $1.7 trillion package was around the corner. He said negotiators still needed to iron out wrinkles on whether another round of stimulus checks would also include undocumented immigrants who pay taxes and whether federal employment benefits would not exceed wages, a concern from Republicans about disincentivizing work.

"I encourage the president and others to just take a deep breath, stand down and take a look at the bigger picture," Reed said.

Trump later tweeted he wanted a standalone bill with $1,200 stimulus checks, and seemed to reverse course, by then calling on lawmakers to approve another $25 billion for U.S. airlines and $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a small business rescue fund.

Reed and others are still pushing for a comprehensive deal rather than piecemeal bills.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also backed the Problem Solvers Caucus' $1.5 trillion solution and urged Trump and the Senate to consider the proposal to get something passed for Americans who are in need of help.

Meanwhile, Democrats are leery of Trump's changing posture and urged the White House to be clear on their proposal.

"There is no offer on the table," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Wednesday. "A tweet from Trump that seems inconsistent with a tweet a few hours earlier is not an offer to help the American people. It's nothing more than political posturing. We need a real proposal to help people who need help — to get control over this virus and get our economy back on track. And Trump is either too self-absorbed or too incompetent — or both — to be able to accomplish that."

Fox News' Brittany De Lea and Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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