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Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, introduced H.R. 6918, the Paycheck Recovery Act Tuesday, which would deliver working people immediate relief and certainty while aiming to match the scale of the current public health and economic crisis.
The Paycheck Recovery Act would end mass unemployment, keep workers connected to their paychecks, return millions of workers who have been laid off or furloughed since March 1 back to payroll and health care and prevent employers of all sizes from being forced to close permanently. H.R. 6918 is co-sponsored by 93 members of Congress from across the ideological spectrum, according to Rep. Jayapal.
Estimated to benefit more than 36 million workers and widely supported by economists, labor leaders and business owners, this legislation would utilize direct grants to businesses of all sizes to put workers back on payroll and health care, help ensure businesses aren’t forced to close permanently, the lawmaker said.
“Mass unemployment is a policy choice, and we must choose differently by passing an urgent proposal that matches the scale of this crisis while delivering certainty and direct relief to workers, businesses of all sizes and the economy,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “The Paycheck Recovery Act will end mass unemployment, put workers back on their paychecks and health care and keep businesses from closing permanently while ensuring workers aren’t forced to return to work before it is safe to do so.”
At a time when the unemployment rate is at its highest level since the Great Depression and more than 37 million workers have lost their jobs during COVID-19, the Paycheck Recovery Act would deliver certainty and stability by covering the full wages of workers earning salaries up to $90,000 and ensuring employers can rehire those laid-off or furloughed since March 1. It does this in a quick and direct manner by utilizing existing payroll tax infrastructure instead of relationships with banks and lending institutions, according to a news release from Jayapal’s office.
The Paycheck Recovery Act is not just an economic recovery plan; it’s a public health plan too. At a time when at least 27 million people have lost their health care and 87 million are uninsured or underinsured, this legislation would return individuals to their employer-sponsored benefits, including health care.
As more than 100,000 small businesses have already closed permanently and thousands of others are unable to pay their essential expenses, H.R. 6918 covers a portion of operating costs such as rent to ensure businesses can re-open when the pandemic ends. It does this without picking winners and losers, covering businesses of all sizes including non-profits and state and local governments, according to Jayapal’s statement.
The Paycheck Recovery Act is estimated to cover more than 36 million workers and cost less than what has already been spent on two rounds of Paycheck Protection Program loans, which have failed to successfully stabilize unemployment, Jayapal said. Proven to be a highly effective program in other parts of the world—from European countries like Germany and Denmark to Asian countries like Singapore and South Korea—direct grants to businesses to keep workers on payroll is overwhelmingly supported by the public. A recent Data for Progress and Tufts University poll found 79 percent of those surveyed supported the proposal.
While H.R. 6918 is co-sponsored by nearly 100 members of Congress, the idea for a paycheck guarantee also has bipartisan, bicameral support. Sens Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have unveiled a similar proposal—the Paycheck Security Act—to cover the wages and benefits of employees at businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. Additionally, the proposal has been endorsed by Nobel-Prize winning economists, former Federal Reserve Chairs and vice presidents, labor leaders, business owners and major national groups across the country.
“We must act to ensure that millions more workers are paid for as long as this crisis endures by making support for employers who keep workers on payroll simpler, faster and more universal,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The Paycheck Recovery Act does just that.”
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