May 21, 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) today introduced legislation with several of his colleagues to cover the wages and benefits of employees of affected businesses and non-profits until the economic and public health crisis is resolved.
“As Americans continue to struggle through the health and economic crisis we’re facing, Congress needs to continue to provide relief to workers and small businesses – the lifeblood of our economy. The Paycheck Security Act would direct economic relief to American workers who are suffering by helping employers maintain their payroll,” Senator Jones said. “Our legislation is exactly the type of big, bold approach that we need to take, given the scale of this crisis. If we can provide the resources that businesses need to tide them over until it is safe to re-open, we can keep more folks safe and help keep workers on the payroll and receiving vital benefits like health insurance. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to include this in the next relief package, so that we can continue to help the people in Alabama and throughout our country who need it most.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more than 470,000 Alabama workers have filed for unemployment. Across the country, more than 20 million people lost their jobs in the month of April alone, the most in a single month on record. An estimated 27 million people have already lost their employer-provided health insurance coverage, and millions more could lose coverage before this crisis is over. The unemployment rate is likely close to 20 percent, and could exceed the depths of the Great Depression in the coming months.
The Paycheck Security Act would avert mass layoffs, stem catastrophic unemployment levels and prevent irreversible business losses with a refundable tax credit big enough ($90,000 annually per employee) to rehire and pay laid off and furloughed workers and restore their health care benefits. It will also provide small and mid-sized businesses with the funds they need to pay for rent, mortgages, utilities and other operating costs until they can reopen safely and sales begin to recover.
Joining Senator Jones in introducing this legislation today are Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
Senator Jones was an early advocate for a payroll protection policy that offered expedited relief for Alabamians and Americans across the country. During the negotiations for the CARES Act, he proposed the Small Business Lifeline fund to direct financial assistance to workers through payroll processing companies. Last month, Senator Jones led an effort to urge Senate leadership to include the Paycheck Security Proposal in the next COVID-19 relief package. And he has also called for the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration to allow payroll processing companies to disburse the CARES Act small businesses loans to reduce complications and expedite salaries to workers.