Oregonians deserve paycheck security

April 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on our local economy. The very small businesses that make Portland special are struggling to stay afloat amidst stay at home orders and social distancing guidelines. With that, has come difficult decisions to lay off workers, which has led to a surge in unemployment claims. 

More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last month, and that number is only expected to grow. Oregonians and workers across the country need relief now

I'm working alongside my partner in the Pacific Northwest delegation, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, to introduce the Paycheck Guarantee Act, which would create a streamlined program to provide a three-month federal guarantee for 100 percent of worker salaries of up to $100,000. This groundbreaking legislation ensures employers of all sizes keep workers on the payroll and continue to provide employer-sponsored benefits.

This paycheck guarantee would automatically renew on a monthly basis until consumer demand rebounds to pre-crisis levels. The bill also includes strong worker protections and fraud prevention measures. It would allow for businesses to re-open more easily once things return to normal without the burden of finding new workers.

In the CARES Act, the House was able to secure expanded Unemployment Insurance benefits and direct assistance for individuals and small businesses. But it hasn’t been perfect. The small business loan programs, for example, struggled to get off the ground and have been poorly administered. Worst of all, the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program have both run out of money. The Paycheck Guarantee Act would reduce confusion and issue the interest-free grants based on quarterly report information the federal government already has.

This crisis has caught the United States' leadership sadly unprepared, but the path forward is clear. I'm fighting for economic stability and relief for our families. Small business is an immediate priority. This legislation will help dramatically. I'm fighting for Universal Basic Income (UBI) of at least $2,000 per month, further expanded Unemployment Insurance, and paycheck guarantees for all workers, including people who are self-employed and in the gig economy. This public health crisis has been unprecedented, but we will get through it together.