Senator Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) has joined the effort by Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) to pass legislation that would see the federal government essentially pay the salaries of workers laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hawley’s “Rehire America” plan would pay up to 80 percent of wages for employees that have been laid off. The legislation also provides payroll assistance for up to 120 percent of pay for rehired workers, an attempt to incentivize businesses to bring back former employees.
“Without additional support, it’s possible that many jobs will never come back and many businesses will never reopen,” Gardner said in announcing his support for the legislation. “More must be done, and we must think big as we continue to search for solutions to help the American people through this pandemic.”
Gardner faces a tough reelection campaign against former governor John Hickenlooper this fall.
Versions of the initiative he is now cosponsoring have gained traction on both sides of the aisle. Progressive representative Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) has proposed similar, albeit more far-reaching, legislation that would pay full salaries for laid-off workers for three months. Jayapal’s initiative, however, did not make it into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposed $3 trillion relief bill, which was proposed on Monday.
“We should put forward a proposal that is focused on jobs in contrast to what House Democrats are doing. They could have done something like this. They had an opportunity to put forward a jobs proposal and they didn’t,” Hawley told Politico. “It is unbelievable that you would propose $3 trillion in federal spending and you wouldn’t have a focus on workers.”
Most Senate Republicans have yet to back Hawley’s legislation. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has resisted efforts to pass more spending after Congress has allocated about $2.8 trillion on economic relief efforts since the start of the pandemic.
“You’ve seen the talk from both sides about acting, but my goal from the beginning of this, given the extraordinary numbers that we’re racking up to the national debt, is that we need to be as cautious as we can be,” McConnell said in April.