After a long weekend at home, the Senate is coming back to work Monday and will get around to passing the House’s coronavirus relief package … sometime this week, probably. The House plan includes free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave for workers at companies with fewer than 500 workers (a huge hole, with 80% of workers at large companies), and stronger unemployment insurance. The House will issue a “technical correction” on Monday after its bill was put together quickly for passage early Saturday.
As for the Senate, Republicans are in no particular hurry, as that long weekend clearly showed, and are ready to pick some fights to further weaken what the bill does for workers. When you read that Sen. Ron Johnson is very concerned that giving people paid sick leave in a pandemic would be a bad idea because it might hurt businesses—even though the House bill includes a tax credit for the businesses to cover the sick leave—remember that just one senator can hold up a bill.
“Although mandating that all employers must pay for sick leave might sound good, we need to consider the unintended consequences of this legislation,” Johnson said in a statement. He added, “I fear that rather than offering a workable solution, the House bill will exacerbate the problem by forcing small businesses to pay wages they cannot afford and ‘helping’ them go further into debt.”
Whereas, to Johnson, giving people the choice between going to work while sick in a pandemic or not getting paid and potentially becoming homeless is apparently a great idea, because at least it doesn’t (immediately) cause problems for any businesses. Shoot, not giving people paid sick leave is business as usual in the United States.
Since the bill includes tax credits for the affected businesses, though, Johnson’s position is especially outrageous. And he even suggested that it might be better for the Senate to “pass nothing at all.”
As for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he said that he and other Republicans “feel strongly that this bill must only be the beginning of Congress’s efforts to support our nation’s economy and stand with American families.” Which presumably means lots of tax cuts for rich people. But the real issue right this minute is when “only the beginning” starts, and how much people like Johnson—or Sen. Marco Rubio, who wants to add some stuff to the bill, at a cost of who knows how many days—are going to hold up the need U.S. workers so urgently need right now.
Posted with permission from Daily Kos