Labor & Employment Law Daily House moving on its own for third Coronavirus bill
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Monday, March 23, 2020

House moving on its own for third Coronavirus bill

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

Among other things, the House bill would strengthen unemployment insurance, give more workers guaranteed paid family and medical leave, including to care for seniors, and make coronavirus treatment free for the patient.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has outlined the major points of the House Democrats’ third coronavirus response bill, the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.” Efforts to advance a third bill to provide relief from the COVID-19 crisis that was advanced by the Senate with bipartisan aspirations broke down amid concerns about whether enough relief would actually inure to the benefits of workers, in light of the heavy dose of corporate stock buybacks seen in the wake of the earlier Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and its—at least partly unrealized—promise to put money into workers’ pockets.

Not so fast. According to Speaker Pelosi, the latest legislation proposed in the Senate, S. 3548, “put corporations first, not workers and families.” In contrast, the House bill would take responsibility for the health, wages, and well-being of America’s workers, she said. Titled the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act,” the Democratic legislation would take responsibility for:

  • Workers and small businesses by requiring that any corporation that takes taxpayer dollars must protect their workers’ wages and benefits—not CEO pay, stock buybacks, or layoffs. Small businesses would get fast relief with grants and loans to tide them through the COVID-19 crisis, and unemployment insurance would be strengthened so it can replace the average wages of workers losing their jobs and hours.
  • Doctors, nurses, health care workers, and first responders by making sure hospitals and other health institutions would get desperately needed funds to provide treatment and care to all who are sick and to ensure they have the Personal Protective Equipment they need. The bill would also protect health care workers by requiring the Administration to enforce strong OSHA protections, and calls on President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act immediately.
  • Families by giving direct payments to them in a robust way and strengthening Child Tax Credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit. The bill would also give more workers guaranteed paid family and medical leave, including those caring for seniors, and would make coronavirus treatment free for the patient.
  • Students by pumping nearly $40 billion into schools and universities, with $30 billion directly provided to states to help them stabilize their school funding, and nearly $10 billion to help alleviate the harm caused by coronavirus on higher education institutions, while providing them with added flexibility to continue operating during the crisis. The bill would also help current borrowers with their student debt burden and GI bill benefits, and bolster SNAP and other initiatives to address food insecurity.
  • Democracy by ensuring that states can carry out this year’s election with billions in grant funding for states through the Election Assistance Commission and a national requirement for both 15 days of early voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail, including mailing a ballot to all registered voters in an emergency.

“We urge the Senate to move closer to the values in the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act,” Speaker Pelosi said.

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