Trump rejects bill to protect workers hurt by virus and pushes tax cut

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The White House said Democrats' bill to protect poor and low-income workers impacted by coronavirus closures 'falls short.'

The White House already appears to be rejecting legislation from congressional Democrats that would extend protections to poor and low-income workers hurt by the economic impacts of the current COVID-19 outbreak, saying the bill "falls short of what's necessary," NBC News reported Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced the "Families First" legislation Wednesday night, which would guarantee free testing for suspected coronavirus cases, 14 days of emergency paid sick leave, and expanded food security measures for low income families, among other provisions.

"The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is focused directly on providing support for America’s families, who must be our first priority in this emergency," Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday night. "We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested knows they can get their test free of charge. We cannot slow the coronavirus outbreak when workers are stuck with the terrible choice between staying home to avoid spreading illness and the paycheck their family can’t afford to lose."

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Trump, however, has been focused on a payroll tax cut that even members of his own party are rejecting.

"Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe," Trump tweeted Wednesday night, after he addressed the nation and gave misleading information about his own travel ban that he implemented to stop the spread of the virus. "The restriction stops people not goods."

Experts say a payroll tax cut wouldn't help the neediest families and hourly workers — who wouldn't be getting paychecks if they are forced to stay home during a quarantine.

"A one-year payroll tax cut of 2% of income would provide up to a $5,508 tax cut to a high-income couple, only $500 to a single parent getting by on $25,000 a year, and nothing for a worker placed on leave without pay," Jason Furman, a former economic adviser to former President Barack Obama, tweeted.

Meanwhile, as prospects for legislation to protect those impacted by the new coronavirus are murky, a number of Senate offices on Capitol Hill have been closed.

A staffer in the office of Sen. Marie Cantwell (D-WA) tested positive for coronavirus, forcing her office to close.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) also announced his office will close to prevent the virus from spreading, raising questions about how Capitol Hill will function moving forward.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.