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By: David M. Higgins II, Publisher
Washington, D.C.- On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Democrats unveiled a proposal to pay essential workers on the frontlines potentially tens of thousands of dollars.
As much as $25,000 in hazard pay would be afforded over a period of time to those deemed essential, including employees in health care, drug stores, grocery stores, sanitation workers, truck drivers, transportation workers and all federal employees with frontline positions, such as Postal Service workers.
“Not all heroes wear capes,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a conference call on Tuesday. “For these Americans, working from home is not an option. Social distancing is not an option.”
The raise would amount to $13 more an hour and would be appilied retroactively.
Individuals in the Health Care field could also receive a one-time premium up to $15,000, coming from the program that recruits and retains medical employees in fields experiencing shortages.
“We are asking these workers to take on great risk. They should be compensated for it,” Schumer said. “These Americans are the true heroes of this pandemic, and we need to make sure they are taken care of. They are there for us, so we must be there for them.”
For essential workers not in health care recruitment programs that make under $200,000 a year, they would receive the maximum premium of $25,000, while those over that threshold would receive a maximum of $5000.
While the price tag is unknown, Schumer says the funds would be distributed to employers who would need to apply for them. It is not known which agency would be responsible for handling this.
Schumer was asked about whether they have spoken to Republicans on it and he said,” We hope that our Republican colleagues will join us in noting that this Heroes Fund and hazard pay proposal is so very needed. I think it should get strong, bipartisan support.”
Meanwhile, Democrats in the House of Representatives are pushing for a fourth stimulus bill aimed at providing more individual checks, relief for small businesses, and expanded unemployment. Originally House Democrats were pushing for a digital infrastructure-focused bill.
President Trump has said he is in favor of providing more checks. The timeline for this remains fluid as Congress will not be back in session until April 20.