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June 01, 2020

REPS. REED, GOTTHEIMER, SCHWEIKERT, AND CUELLAR UNVEIL LEGISLATION TO REWARD AND HONOR AMERICAN WORKERS WHO HAVE KEPT THE COUNTRY GOING THROUGH COVID CRISIS

Today, Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Rep. David Schweikert (AZ-06), and Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28) announced the introduction of the “Rewarding American Workers Act,” which will distribute much needed financial relief to millions of American workers who have staffed essential businesses over the course of the pandemic.

The bipartisan bill would retroactively give low and middle-income workers on the front lines of the response to COVID-19 an important source of additional economic support, while also addressing concerns regarding unemployment insurance.

A one-pager summarizing the bill can be found here.

“I care about rewarding workers who have persevered through this crisis and showed up to work because the American people and our economy rely on their services. While it is important that the federal government provide unemployment assistance for those unable to return to work, it is equally important essential workers are financially rewarded for doing their jobs,” said Congressman Tom Reed. “This country should be doing everything it can to make it clear worker’s commitment to their employers and communities are economically and culturally valued.”

“Here in one of the hardest hit areas in our entire country, North Jersey’s essential businesses and their employees, our first responders, and frontline medical workers are helping to keep our communities and economy going, and reopen our state safely. It is because of their vital work that we will get through this,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer. “I’m a firm believer in always getting the backs of those who have ours, especially as New Jersey fights this pandemic. With this new bipartisan legislation, we’re helping employers honor our essential workers and local heroes for all their dedication and sacrifice throughout this crisis.”

“Employees serving our communities deserve the opportunity to be rewarded for their hard work, especially when they are performing essential duties,” said Congressman David Schweikert. “As communities begin to safely re-open, this tax credit will allow businesses to provide additional support to their workers for their dedication when many of these workers could have earned more staying on the sidelines.”

“As America responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress continues to provide financial support to millions of Americans who have faced unemployment and are still unable to work.  However, we must also reward those Americans who have endeavored, during this crisis, to show up for work at their essential and frontline positions,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure that these critical employees receive deserved federal tax credits for their dedication to our domestic businesses and incentivize their continued hard work, during these challenging times. As a member of the Bipartisan White House Task Force, I am committed to making sure our employees and businesses have the necessary resources to maintain our country’s economic stability, while we safely reopen and recover.” 

The International Franchise Association shared its support for the bill, noting “the Rewarding American Workers Act does just that – it would ensure employees receive additional support for their hard work during this pandemic. Importantly, it helps keep workers on payroll, which better provides a long-term path for economic recovery. IFA supports this legislation to benefit America’s more than 8 million franchise employees and their families.” 

The legislation is also supported by the National Association of Convenience Stores.

The legislation works by providing businesses with an advanceable and refundable tax credit that they can then use to provide their workers with a one time, immediate payment. The size of the bonus is structured to fall as income rises, with payments limited to those earning below $99,000. The bill uses existing IRS and Treasury authorities to ensure workers get financial relief as quickly as possible.

Examples Of “RAWA” In Action: 

  • For a fast-food worker or store cashier earning a wage of $25,000, the bill would provide them with a bonus of approximately $2,880 (around ~30% of wages earned during the crisis).
  • For a licensed practical nurse or hospice caregiver earning a wage of $45,000, the bill would provide them with a bonus of approximately $2,500 (around ~15% of wages earned during the crisis).
  • For a law enforcement worker earning a wage of $60,000, the bill would provide them with a bonus of $600.

The bill text can be found here.

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