Momentum shifts on Covid stimulus

The tide on Capitol Hill is shifting in favor of compromising to pass a new economic stimulus package to help Americans and U.S. small businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, the co-chairs of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus told CNBC on Thursday.

“We’re exhausted … after how long we’ve been fighting to get something done, but I really believe now you’re seeing the momentum in this next week to get this emergency package into law,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer said on “Squawk Box.” “I think there’s a deep recognition … that we’ve got to get something done. People are really hurting. Small businesses are going out, scores of them, every single day,” the New Jersey Democrat added.

Gottheimer’s Problem Solvers Caucus this week unveiled a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus plan with a bipartisan group of senators, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had for months backed a more expensive relief bill, put their support behind the bipartisan proposal Wednesday, calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use it as the basis begin stimulus negotiations.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has favored a smaller package closer to $500 billion. He rejected the bipartisan proposal Tuesday and said, “We just don’t have time to waste time.”

Nonetheless, the congressmen who helped craft the new package — which includes funds for small business aid and a $300 per week unemployment supplement — believe it will continue to gather support in Washington. “It’s time to listen to the American people,” New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed also said on “Squawk Box.”

The Problem Solvers Caucus co-Chair Reed, who represents a large swath of western and central New York state, said he has heard in recent days that there could be more Republican support for a coronavirus relief package in the range of $550 billion to $700 billion. “So that means we’re real close. You look at where the Democratic leadership was. They were at $1.3 trillion. They’re now at $900 billion supporting this bipartisan, bicameral package that we put together,” he said.

“Now you’re seeing the movement in the Senate. You see the White House in a position to potentially sign a package. They recognize we have to get this done as Covid surges, as people continue to suffer, businesses running out of the lifelines,” added Reed. “The bottom line is, this is right in the range of reason. It’s not a perfect bill, but it is a compromise bill that can bring people together.”