U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Ala., alongside several of his colleagues, today released a proposal to establish a ‘Paycheck Security’ program to cover the wages and benefits of employees of affected businesses and non-profits until the economic and public health crisis is resolved.
“While we’re taking drastic steps to ensure the health and safety of the American people, we must also keep our hard-hit small businesses and their employees financially secure. The Paycheck Security Act will put existing infrastructure to work to help companies maintain payroll while cutting the red tape that’s slowing down relief to the American workers who need it most,” Senator Jones said. “Folks on both sides of the aisle agree we have to do more at the federal level to help small businesses and their employees, especially as it appears we’ll have a slow, staggered process to get folks back to work. This proposal is a creative solution that we can be implemented quickly to help businesses and workers in Alabama and across the country.”
Under the terms of the paycheck security proposal:
- All employers who have suffered a month-over-month drop in revenues of at least 20 percent will be eligible to receive grants covering a portion of payroll and benefits for at least the next six months.
- Grants will cover salaries and wages up to $90,000 for each furloughed or laid off employee, plus benefits, as well as up to an additional 20 percent of revenues to cover fixed operating costs such as rent, utilities, insurance policies, and maintenance.
- Employers and non-profits of all sizes will be eligible if they can verify revenue losses and don’t otherwise have more than 18 months of their payroll available in cash.
- Businesses that have received a Paycheck Protection Program loan or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or have otherwise accessed the Federal Reserve 13(3) facilities, will be ineligible, unless they exhaust these other programs or use the Payroll Security Program grant to pay back their existing loans.
An extensive white paper detailing eligibility, verification, and other contours of the proposal is available here.
“The Paycheck Security proposal is the right solution at the right time. It supports workers, keeps businesses afloat, and plays an oversized told in saving the American economy,” said John Bridgeland, former Director of the White House Domestic Policy for George W. Bush. “These Senators recognize that Congress should be supporting employment, not massive unemployment. We need this smart proposal to be enacted now.”
“We’re thrilled the Senators are seeking long-term grant assistance for businesses harmed by COVID-19 in his proposal for the Paycheck Security Program,” said John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority. “This will provide a much more streamlined process that will allow businesses to continue to operate and keep people employed, and it will help the most vulnerable small businesses that have been left behind by the inefficient and underfunded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Senators’ proposal addresses the needs of businesses and their employees now and throughout the rest of this crisis, reducing the need to keep going back to Congress for band-aid fixes.”
“The Paycheck Security Act is a bold program of grants, not loans, appropriately scaled to meet the massive challenge facing workers and firms. Equally important, it’s designed to be quickly and efficiently executed,” said Jared Bernstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Workers and their families are paying the price for going into the current crisis with a weak social insurance system and public safety net. Given this pre-existing weakness, transformative responses to this economic crisis have to be put together on the fly, and the Paycheck Security Act is a bold solution to provide needed relief during the lockdown period of the crisis and would put us in much better position to mount a rapid recovery once the public health all-clear was sounded,” said Josh Bivens, Director of Research, Economic Policy Institute.
“We are headed toward catastrophic levels of unemployment–20 percent or higher–and 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. The Paycheck Security Act does just that,” said Richard L. Trumka, President, AFL-CIO.
Also joining Senator Jones in releasing the proposal today are Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
Alabama Democratic Party: Mitch McConnell, Senate GOP are playing politics at the expense of families
The Alabama Democratic Party this week released a statement blaming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Senate Republicans for the inability of the two parties to come together to pass a bipartisan coronavirus aid bill before adjourning for the August recess.
“We are furious. You should be too. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are once again playing politics at the expense of Alabama families,” the Alabama Democratic Party wrote in an email to its donors and supporters. “Mitch McConnell waited over two months after the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act to begin negotiations on a new relief package. He knew full well that many of the programs that Americans have relied on during this crisis would expire at the end of July. Now, many Alabama families are in dire straits and facing evictions. As Senator Doug Jones said, ‘this is completely inexcusable.'”
Negotiations on a deal failed Thursday night, and Trump responded to the impasse by passing a series of executive orders to extend benefits for the unemployed and provide a break from payroll taxes.
“The President’s executive order is a thinly veiled attempt to fulfill his promise of cutting Medicaid and privatizing Social Security,” the Alabama Democrats responded to the President’s actions. “His payroll tax collection moratorium also leaves open the possibility that the taxes may need to be paid in a lump sum next year. We need a bipartisan solution from the Senate, not political stunts, and hollow executive orders.”
House Democrats wanted a $3.4 trillion stimulus while the Republicans want to limit it to just $1 trillion.
“Tell Senate Republicans to extend unemployment benefits to 600 dollars weekly by signing our petition,” the Alabama Democratic Party wrote. “Alabama workers, displaced by the pandemic, should be able to provide for their families and pay their bills. Tell Mitch McConnell to quit playing games and act now.”
Alabama Arise calls Trump unemployment order “Band-Aid over a gaping economic wound”
An Alabama nonprofit that advocates for low-income residents says that President Donald Trump’s executive actions to extend federal aid to Americans affected by the pandemic falls far short of what is needed.
“These executive actions put a Band-Aid over a gaping economic wound,” Chris Sanders, communications director for Alabama Arise, said in a statement on Tuesday. “They don’t stem the tide of evictions or extend rental or mortgage assistance to help people stay in their homes. They don’t increase SNAP assistance to help millions of struggling families keep food on the table. And they don’t provide federal relief to help states avoid layoffs and cuts to education, Medicaid and other vital services.”
Sanders noted that weekly federal aid to people who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic would drop from $600 to $300, with states required to contribute another $100. That would be an undue burden on “cash-strapped” states like Alabama that have lost significant tax revenues, Sanders said.
The aid would only last a few weeks without new legislation, he added. Sanders said Congress could eliminate that uncertainty by extending the $600 weekly unemployment aid into 2021.
Trump’s orders, announced by the White House on Saturday, were meant to bypass a stalemate in Congress over pandemic-related benefits. They are expected to face legal challenges, which Sanders noted they may not survive.
“Even if they would, they’re inadequate to address the size and scope of suffering across Alabama and across our country,” he said. “There’s simply no replacement for a bipartisan relief package. Congress must step up quickly to ease the suffering and help struggling families make ends meet.”
Alabama Arise calls itself a coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals united in a belief that poverty in Alabama is a result of public policy. It promotes policies it says can improve the lives of residents with low incomes.
Jones: Senate should not have left D.C. without deal on COVID relief bill
“The Senate never should have left D.C. without passing a deal to extend emergency unemployment and eviction moratoriums, to provide funding for schools to reopen safely, and to create a national testing and contact tracing plan,” Jones said.
Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said that the Senate should not have left Washington D.C. without a deal on a coronavirus aid bill. Instead, the Senate should have stayed and worked until a deal was reached.
Negotiations between the two sides broke down late Thursday night when the White House refused Democratic demands that the aid package be $3.4 trillion instead of $1 trillion.
“The Senate never should have left D.C. without passing a deal to extend emergency unemployment and eviction moratoriums, to provide funding for schools to reopen safely, and to create a national testing and contact tracing plan,” Jones said in a statement on social media. “We need to come together and negotiate a deal ASAP.”
The White House blames congressional Democrats and their insistence on such a massive package for the failure to pass a deal.
“Democrats in Congress wasted extensive negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about an expanded Coronavirus relief package,” the White House wrote in a statement. “Democrat leaders were not only willing but determined to withhold vital assistance for families to use it as a political bargaining chip for their radical agenda.”
Since Congress didn’t act, Trump did, the White House said.
“He issued four major executive actions over the weekend,” the White House statement reads. “The first provides out-of-work Americans with $400-per-week in supplemental aid on top of existing unemployment benefits. The second assists renters and homeowners who are struggling to pay their lease or make their mortgage payment. The third defers payroll taxes for employees making $100,000 or less per year through the end of the year. The fourth suspends federal student loan payments and sets interest rates to 0 percent through the end of the year.”
Jones dismissed Trump’s orders as being more for show than for actual benefit of the American people.
“By signing these executive orders that are more for show than actual help for the American people, President Trump has confirmed that his administration has not acted in good faith and had no intention of reaching bipartisan agreement on legislation that would benefit all Americans,” Jones said. “The Senate, which absolutely should not have recessed without passing a relief package, needs to immediately return to Washington to pass legislation that provides adequate support for the Americans who are suffering as a result of this virus as well as our economy.”
Jones faces a difficult re-election battle against former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville. Jones narrowly defeated former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in a 2017 special election. Jones is the only Democrat to win a statewide election in Alabama since 2008.
AFL-CIO endorses Adia Winfrey for Congress
Democratic congressional candidate Adia Winfrey’s campaign announced Monday that she has received the endorsement of the Alabama AFL-CIO in Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District.
At their annual convention last week, union leaders from across the state recognized Winfrey’s “passion, ability to lead and attentiveness to the issues affecting working men and women” as reasons to endorse the Democratic challenger against incumbent Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama.
“Labor unions have long been a leading force in our nation’s economy,” Winfrey wrote. “Workplace safety standards, employee benefits, equal pay for women, non-discrimination policies and so much more can be attributed directly to union members who were willing to speak up for what is right. I look forward to being a voice for Alabama’s hard-working men and women in Congress.”
Winfrey is challenging Rogers, a nine-term incumbent, in the Nov. 3 general election. During his 18 years in Congress, Rogers has earned only a 16 percent lifetime rating by the AFL-CIO for his votes.
“For seven generations, my family has called Talladega, Alabama, home,” Winfrey said. “I am the mother of four amazing children, a doctor of psychology, author, founder of the H.Y.P.E. (Healing Young People thru Empowerment) Movement, and … I am running for Congress in Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District! I believe in the future of our beautiful state and nation. It is time for leadership with a new vision which is #FocusedOnAlabama.”
Winfrey has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wilberforce University and a doctorate of clinical psychology degree from the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology.