Tags: unemployment | direct payments | sen. hawley

Paying Unemployed Workers' Wages Gains Some Bipartisan Support

rep. pramila jayapal is shown
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

By    |   Thursday, 14 May 2020 08:14 AM

Lawmakers from both parties are advocating for ways to make sure Americans have money during the coronavirus pandemic.

As unemployment rises, a progressive lawmaker in the House and a conservative lawmaker in the Senate are both showing support for the federal government to pay for workers’ salaries, The New York Times reports.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. and Sen. Josh Hawley R-Mo. are both fans of getting money into the pockets of Americans as part of the next federal relief program.

“We have a situation where people and families in every part of the country are facing this unprecedented crisis, and they are looking for relief,” Jayapal told the newspaper. “They are looking for certainty, and they are looking for a policy response that matches the scale of the crisis.”

Jayapal has put forward a paycheck guarantee program, which ultimately was removed from the House Democrats’ $3 trillion relief push. 

“This is a proposal with broad support that should be taken seriously,” she said. “What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for unemployment to reach 50 percent?”

Her proposal would pay workers’ salaries up to $90,000 for up to six months. It would allow businesses to rehire employees they furloughed or laid-off. The bill would distribute grants to businesses to cover operating costs. Overall, the program would cost  $654 billion over six months and benefit more than 36 million workers, according to an analysis she had prepared. 

Several other progressive members of Congress have suggested similar ideas. Many conservative lawmakers call the payment proposals radical, but some are latching on. 

Sen. Hawley pitched a proposal similar to the British government’s concept that pays 80% of employers’ payroll costs up to a media wage of about $49,000 a year. Hawley’s version would also pay families and single parents making less than $100,000 with a monthly check for the duration of the crisis.

“Let’s not overthink this,” Hawley said when he shared his bill. “These families need relief — now — to pay bills that are coming due, make those emergency grocery runs and get ready for potential medical bills. Let’s get it to them.”

Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., tweeted he is a fan of sending direct payments to Americans.

“The best thing we could have done is get universal monthly cash relief to the people,” he tweeted last month. 

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Lawmakers from both parties are advocating for ways to make sure Americans have money during the coronavirus pandemic.
unemployment, direct payments, sen. hawley
Thursday, 14 May 2020 08:14 AM
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