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Paycheck protection urged in next COVID-19 stimulus bill

Senator Mark Warner says the U.S. should follow European and Canadian models in helping companies to keep workers on the job.

WASHINGTON — As grim as things seem now, it may only get worse.

Even as states begin to re-open, it is feared by some experts that by July, the unemployment rate in America could reach 32 percent.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner's proposal would establish a "Paycheck Security" program to cover the wages and benefits of employees of affected businesses and non-profits until the economic and public health crisis is resolved. 

"Economists from left to right have said the European approach with direct government support to payroll, our proposal would have 100 percent of pay up to $90,000 of pay level for those workers who've been furloughed so that we can reconnect those workers back to their workplace, the government would pay that directly," he said.

Employers that have seen at least a 20 percent drop in revenues would be eligible to receive grants that would last at least six months.

Warner said many companies have not been able to access other federal assistance in the previous COVID-19 stimulus packages.

"If we have the paycheck support initiative, that would keep people connected," he said. "That would be valuable in terms of re-starting the economy. But it would also be valuable when we think about more than 30 million Americans who have lost their jobs, many of whom have also lost their health care."

Warner says he will have total cost estimates for the Paycheck Security proposal "in the next day or two."

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