Josh Hawley Proposes Coronavirus Emergency Family Relief Plan

Josh Hawley
Getty Images/ Chip Somodevilla

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) unveiled the Emergency Family Relief Act of 2020 on Tuesday, which would provide families economic relief in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Hawley introduced the legislation as the Senate continues to consider the House-passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which would require employers with fewer than 500 employees to guarantee workers paid sick and family leave. He said Americans need a simpler solution to provide them economic relief.

Hawley outlined in a statement on Tuesday:

Struggling families need help, and they don’t have time to sort through confusing rules and mandates about who’s paying for what and how. They’re not sure what’s going to happen to mom’s or dad’s workplace during this crisis, or if their work can afford to keep everyone on payroll. Let’s not overthink this. These families need relief — now — to pay bills that are coming due, make those emergency grocery runs, and get ready for potential medical bills. Let’s get it to them.

Hawley’s legislation would:

  • Provide families experiencing school closures or financial hardship a fully refundable monthly benefit. The benefit would match the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) monthly standard for household benefits:
    • $1,446 for a family of three
    • $1,786 for a family of four
    • $2,2206 for a family of five
  • Verify timely benefit delivery through the existing Treasury Department infrastructure and expediting applications utilizing tax return data for prior filers.
  • Target those in need by providing full benefits to all single parents making less than $50,000, and to all married parents making less than $100,000. The legislation would then phase down the monthly credit past the $100,000 salary level.

Hawley said on Fox News while the House-passed bill does provide meaningful relief to small businesses, Congress needs to do more to help families struggling through the coronavirus outbreak. He said:

Well, I like the fact that it does move quickly. I like the fact that it gets relief quickly to businesses, particularly small to medium-size businesses. There’s some aspects of it that I certainly wouldn’t have drafted that way, but my view is we need to move on this quickly. I hope that if there are any amendments in the Senate that they will be processed very, very fast. But listen, we’re in the middle of a national emergency, as the president said. And my view is we need to process the House bill, which the White House negotiated, as quickly as possible and then move on because there’s a lot to do here. And families, in particular — families and working families, workers, individually, they need some support and relief.

Quinton Lucas —  the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri — endorsed Hawley’s legislation in a tweet on Tuesday.

Lucas wrote, “A thousand times yes!! Thank you Sen. Hawley. Kansas City stands ready to support your proposal.”

Hawley’s announcement follows as Sen. Tom Cotton, who has proposed his own plan to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, has called for Senate Republicans to pass their own coronavirus package.

Aaron MacLean, Cotton’s legislative director, wrote in an email to Republican legislative directors that the Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) plan is insufficient to combat the growing threat of the coronavirus.

To begin with, the House doesn’t seem to actually have a bill. Further, while the plan as we understand it has some good elements, its key plank — the paid sick leave provisions combined with ever more complicated plans from Treasury to help businesses pay for them — fails to address the severity of the moment. It introduces uncertainty and complexity at a time when Americans (including business owners) are already overwhelmed. Most important, it will not help anyone whose employer goes out of business. Its policy objectives of “wage-replacement” and “wage-continuity” for a small portion of American workers are rapidy being overcome by global events.

“The Senate should think bigger,” MacLean added.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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