May 14, 2020

A plan for a compensation fund for essential workers and their families was just announced by a bipartisan group in the House and Senate

Source: Business Insider


Democratic and Republican lawmakers unveiled on Thursday a plan to provide a compensation fund for essential workers and their families who have become ill or died from the coronavirus.

The "Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act" would provide compensation to essential workers across a variety of industries, including grocery, retail, delivery, transit, janitorial services, healthcare, and other jobs whose workers have responded to the pandemic.

It would also account for family members who became ill or died because of an essential worker in their family.

The bill is led in the House by Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, as well as Republican Rep. Peter King, all from New York, and in the Senate by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois.

King said that compensation for essential workers is "an American issue" and should be a bipartisan effort. Most Republicans will support the bill, King said.

A total cost or limit for the bill has yet to be determined, but Maloney said that all impacted workers should receive compensation.

Maloney praised grocery store employees, postal carriers, healthcare workers, and delivery workers for their response to the pandemic. "We owe them so much more than just our thanks and our applause," Maloney said.

"They never signed up to be on the front lines of a global pandemic," Duckworth said.

The fund will be modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that provided compensation to first responders and their families. Nadler, whose congressional district includes the World Trade Center site, said the legislation will draw on lessons from the 9/11 fund.

While the bill will likely face hurdles getting passed through Congress just as the 9/11 fund did, Maloney said "there's not a doubt in my mind" that it will become law. The legislative process for the September 11th fund was drawn out but eventually passed with a 402-12 vote in the House and 97-2 in the Senate.

Nadler said that while there was a struggle to show that 9/11 first responders were suffering from health complications across the country and not just in New York, the health implications from the coronavirus are clear in every part of the country.

King said that aside from the human aspect of the bill, the fund would help the economy by ensuring that families aren't suffering from medical costs.

"Whatever the cost is, we have to get it done," King said, comparing it to the country's response to the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.

By:  Bryan Pietsch