Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is proposing that essential, frontline workers receive an additional $12 per hour of pay for three months as they face increased exposure to the new coronavirus. That's on top of what they already make.
Romney proposes that the so-called Patriot Pay would be given out in May, June and July. One-quarter would come from the employer and the rest would come from the federal government. It would be paid for using a refundable payroll tax credit.
“Health care professionals, grocery store workers, food processors, and many others—the unsung patriots on the frontline of this pandemic—every day risk their safety for the health and well-being of our country, and they deserve our unwavering support,” Romney said in a statement. “Patriot Pay is a way for us to reward our essential workers as they continue to keep Americans safe, healthy, and fed.”
Romney says one of the reasons behind the proposal is to make sure that workers in critical industries take home more compensation than the unemployment insurance rate.
Employers would receive a 75% refundable payroll tax credit for a bonus up to $12 an hour to employees making less than $50,000 per year. The credit drops by $24 for each additional $500 of income up to $90,000 per year.
Employees must work at least 100 hours each month that they receive the bonus for their wages to be eligible for the tax credit.
Romney said Congress and the Department of Labor would designate critical industries that could take part.
Last month, Democratic congressmen Tim Ryan and Ro Khanna proposed a $2,000 per month payment to every American adult until unemployment reaches pre-COVID-19 numbers.
It's not clear if either proposal may end up in a potential Phase 4 stimulus package from Congress.