Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for up to $25,000 in “heroes” pay for frontline health care and service industry workers as Congress pushes ahead with a new coronavirus crisis rescue package.
“This is a heroes’ fund and they deserve it,” the New York Democrat said on Tuesday.
The Senate’s minority leader declared the emerging proposal the “highest priority” from Democrats as congressional leaders and President Trump call for more aid for Americans.
Nurses, truck drivers, grocery store clerks and others are “risking their lives” to care for Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown, he said.
“They get lots of applause and kudos,” he said, referring to the nightly 7 p.m. cheers that ring out from residents across New York City for the frontline workers.
But, he said, they also need the cash.
The proposal comes as both the president the congressional leaders agreed that Americans will need more aid beyond the $2.2 trillion package signed into law by President Trump last month.
“We’re going to take good care of our people,” Trump said Monday at his daily White House briefing. “It was not their fault.”
The details of the package are still being debated and it is unclear if Schumer’s idea will gain traction with Trump or his Republican allies in Congress — especially given it is sure to be an enormous price tag.
Schumer’s proposal would provide up to $25,000 in hazard pay for the rest of the year for the frontline workers.
Bigger corporations would be expected to foot the bill for the pay hike, he said, while the federal government would provide funding for smaller firms.
Already, small businesses can tap forgivable loans of up to $10 million from the federal government to keep making payroll while workers are told to stay home.
The move also comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said another $1 trillion is needed in the emerging aid package.
Pelosi said Monday she wants another round of direct payments to Americans and more money for companies to keep making payroll.
The California Democrat has vowed to put the next package together in time for a House vote this month.
Pelosi told House Democrats on a Monday conference call at least another $1 trillion would be needed, a source told the Associated Press.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said in recent days that health care should top the list.
With Post wires
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