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Torres Small backs proposed coronavirus relief framework

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U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, speaks with an attendee outside Pearson Auditorium after NMMI's high school graduation ceremony in May 2019. Torres Small recently stated her support for the framework from the House Problem Solvers Caucus for a roughly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package. (File Photo)

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, has voiced support for a bipartisan proposed COVID-19 relief package.

Torres Small, who represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, announced her backing of the “March For Common Ground” framework that was crafted by the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, of which Torres Small is a member, consists of 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats who work to create and advance bipartisan legislation.

In an interview, Torres Small said the roughly $2 trillion proposal is intended to restart stalled talks over such a package, and was the product of weeks of discussion among House members, House leadership and the White House.

“This proposal identifies areas of common ground,” Torres Small said in a Sept. 17 interview with the Roswell Daily Record.

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“What we wanted to do is set a good example of people who are trying to work in a bipartisan manner and to try to get leadership to do that on both sides of the aisle, as well,” she added.

According to a press release, the proposed package would be funded through a combination of newly appropriated money and unspent funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.

Some parts of the proposal include: $100 billion for COVID-19 testing and health care; $290 billion in small business relief; $316 billion in direct assistance to families and individuals economically impacted by the pandemic; more than $500 billion for state and local governments; $25 billion for agriculture producers; and $15 billion for the United States Postal Service.

Other elements include liability protection for some businesses, increased enforcement of worker protections and another round of $1,200 direct stimulus checks to individual taxpayers such as those sent out earlier this year, according to the text of the 13-page proposal.

For months, congressional leaders have been struggling to hammer out a deal for a COVID-19 relief package that can help the ailing economy recover.

In May, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, with all but one Republican voting against the $3 trillion stimulus bill. Torres Small was one of 14 Democrats to vote against it.

Despite passing the House, the HEROES Act has not been brought up for a vote in the Republican-led Senate.

Other slimmed-down proposals put forth by Republicans have been unable to garner the necessary support for passage.

Torres Small said she is optimistic about passage of a possible deal on COVID-19 relief, but that she strongly backs keeping the House in session until a relief package is approved.

A first-term Democrat who won the usually Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District in 2018 by less than 2%, Torres Small faces Republican former state Rep. Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo and write-in Independent candidate Steve Jones of Ruidoso in November.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.