Vote on coronavirus bill still expected, but … |

Vote on coronavirus bill still expected, but …

Votes on the coronavirus economic aid bill are still expected later today, but the bill hit a snag when Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rick Scott of Florida opposed speedy consideration of the measure over concerns it would encourage employees to be laid off instead of working, Politico reported.

At issue, Politico said, is language surrounding beefed-up unemployment insurance, which the four senators say would allow workers to be paid more on unemployment than what they were making while employed.

The lawmakers are working with the Senate Finance Committee to craft an amendment to fix the “drafting error” before they agree to fast-track consideration of the package — a demand that has delayed the bill’s release, as well as the timeline for final passage, Politico added.

Heritage Action for America said, “The unemployment insurance provisions in the CARES Act threaten America’s workforce. Instead of protecting workers, they create a situation in which employees are better off being fired than remaining employed during this pandemic-created economic downturn.”

Paul Winfree of the Heritage Foundation added, “As currently drafted, the CARES Act will cripple the economy by pushing people away from their employers and onto unemployment insurance. This will ultimately hurt workers who will be better off remaining attached to their jobs so that when the pandemic subsides we can all get back to work as quickly as possible. The primary goal of policymakers should be to keep Americans attached to their employers, not government programs.”

“Senators Graham, Sasse, Tim Scott, and Rick Scott are right – this should not be allowed to stand. Our government should be supporting gainful employment, not undercutting it. The Senate should vote today to fix it.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, earlier today released a summary of the unemployment, tax policy and health care provisions in in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

At the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing currently underway, President Donald Trump noted, “We still need a vote.”

At the briefing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin acknowledged that the four senators had raised the issue and that he has spoken with the senators about it. Mnuchin declined to comment on the position of the four senators at this time, but said he still expects the bill to pass the Senate tonight and go to the House on Thursday.

Mnuchin said that the issue has arisen because of the need to use a simple system to get the unemployment benefits out quickly.

“I don’t think it will create incentives,” Mnuchin said.

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