U.S. Rep. Tom Reed on Wednesday encouraged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to continue negotiations on coronavirus relief.
“They have been moving in the right direction,” Reed told reporters on a conference call organized by his re-election campaign team to highlight the congressman’s partisan event in Ithaca today.
Reed, R-Corning, said the Problem Solvers Caucus, of which he is co-chairman, has sent letters to negotiators urging them to press forward.
The letter states: “We are only 14 days away from the election, after which the prospect of moving stimulus legislation forward is very dim until early February. Every day that passes is another missed opportunity to deliver relief for American families and businesses who will continue to suffer needlessly as a result of Congress failing to do its job.”
Reed called the $500 million “skinny” bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had promised to put up for a vote in the Senate insufficient to the task of providing relief to businesses and individuals in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We need to get it done before the election,” Reed said. “People are hurting now.”
He doubted anything would happen in a lame duck session — no matter who is elected president.
“A lot of people think Joe Biden is going to win,” said Reed, who is President Trump’s New York re-election committee honorary chairman.
House Democrats passed the $3.2 trillion HEROES Act in May. McConnell refused to bring any more coronavirus relief bills to the floor. The White House has been negotiating with Pelosi on and off for the past three months.
Reed doubts any relief bill would be passed in the days and weeks after the election, as the counting of ballots could drag on for weeks — “maybe into December. Until the election dust settles, getting a deal done is very problematic.”
There is also a political risk for Senate Republicans blocking a coronavirus relief bill before the election, Reed said. “Take yes for an answer. The president is willing to sign it today. Why take the risk?”
Reed, who is up for re-election himself and is challenged by Democrat Tracy Mitrano, said he favors a $2 trillion package that would include stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment, a new round of paycheck protection for businesses, state and local government relief and help for students in K-12 in schools and colleges, as well as farm assistance.
Reed also said he’s heard a lot about a possible quarantine by New York state of Pennsylvania residents, where COVID-19 is at dangerously mounting levels.
Reed said a lot of Pennsylvania residents keep New York’s Southern Tier “up and running.” He said he was glad Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t require Pennsylvania residents to quarantine.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)