Congressman Tom Reed is hopeful the House and Senate may work out and pass a federal stimulus package by early August. While both sides are far apart on dollar amounts and how to spend them, the Southern Tier Republican is also hopeful the finished package will include a child care assistance bill like the one he explained during his weekly conference call Tuesday morning.
Reed spoke of what is called the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020, which he sponsors with 10 colleagues in the House.
"This is a nine-month bill that would provide for direct assistance to childcare providers, from the federal government," he said. "It would allow states to design state-specific plans to support child care centers operating in their states, and it will go to set the standards for a safe environment for children to be in when they return to a child care setting."
Reed says there will be a need to negotiate the Act with the Senate, as both sides also remain apart on a broader COVID-related federal stimulus package. The House has passed a $3 trillion package while the Senate has passed a $1 trillion version known as the HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools) Act.
Both versions support another round of $1,200 stimulus checks but the Senate's version would trim the additional $600 provided weekly with unemployment insurance down to $200 per week.
Reed feels both sides could haggle their way towards a $1.5 trillion package.
"I'm still very confident that our three top priorities are going to be in the final bill," he said. "That is, a revised unemployment benefit that works to help people during these difficult times, but also provides the financial incentive to return to work, not the disincentives that we have. We have state and local aid when it comes to that issue. My biggest priority there is direct local aid to our municipalities. And then obviously, you know, our child care that we lead with today."
He admits disappointment over the length of time it has taken Senate Republicans and the White House to agree on a proposal.
"If I was in charge, running the trains, I wouldn't run it this way. I would have us all sit in a room and not leave until we get it done," Reed said. "But the bottom line is, is now we are in a room, quote unquote, and we're not leaving until it gets done. And so, from my perspective, they'll cobble together 218 votes in the House, and they will get 60 to 70 votes in the Senate, and this will be given to the President's desk within the next week to 10 days."