CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -While unemployment remains high and many small businesses in the area continue to suffer due to the pandemic, Congress remains stalled on a new round of COVID-19 relief funding.
President Donald Trump signed the first round of COVID-19 relief funding in March. As the American people wait for a new round of COVID-19 relief funding, Republican Representative Denver Riggleman says party leadership on both sides of the aisle is hurting efforts.
“We’ve got two parties that are so tribalistic right now that we can’t get anything done,” he said.
Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger agrees and says the debate in Congress is misguided. People in Washington are currently arguing over numbers when it should be on people.
“The people who are worried about how they’re going to put food on the table, the people whose small businesses are teetering on the edge, the people who have lost their jobs," Spanberger said.
The politics at play may make compromise difficult. “If you’re not doing something that completely wins for either side, compromise is not something that anybody wants because of the presidential election year," Riggleman said.
One potential opportunity? A bipartisan group of legislators quietly working on a deal. “The problem solvers caucus, we’re half Democrats, half Republicans, 25 and 25 and we’ve been working for weeks on just that," Spanberger said.
The group hammered out their March to Common Ground Covid Stimulus Framework that would again provide money for testing, small business and nonprofit support and direct assistance to individuals and families, among other things.
“We’re presenting to the various different caucuses that exist, the new Dems, the blue dogs on the Democratic side of the aisle. Our Republican colleagues are doing the same work with the different caucuses that exist on their side of the aisle. We’re expanding and talking to our Senators," Spanberger said.
With a potential showdown over Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat occupying much of the energy on the Hill, this new framework for a deal is not inevitable.
“We have an opportunity right now to help everyone and to make sure that we protect people also, but it’s going to be very difficult to get through,” Riggleman said.
There is a glimmer of hope something could pass soon. “There’s a real possibility to come back to the table and we’ve seen that the White House has signaled that they’re taking a look at the proposal that we’ve put forward,” Spanberger said.
Representative Spanberger says calling your representative still works and she recommends doing so to push Congress forward on any deal.