Hawley unveils initiative to rehire workers laid off during coronavirus crisis, bolster domestic production

Greg Nash

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) unveiled a new initiative Friday to rehire every worker who was laid off during the coronavirus crisis and bolster domestic production of goods.

Hawley’s initiative, which he said should be included in a fourth coronavirus relief package that is still being negotiated by Congress, is intended to mitigate the ongoing economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare the country for any future outbreak. 

The proposal would have the government give a refundable payroll tax rebate covering 80 percent of employer payroll costs for companies of all sizes that would last for the rest of the pandemic. The new credit would apply fully to workers laid off in March or April, and firms would be incentivized to rehire with bonus credit amounts for each rehired employee.

The initiative also calls for a “substantial” investment tax credit for firms that retain their workers to offset other costs. 

“Workers should not be forced into unemployment because of the government’s health measures prompted by this crisis. Workers should be able to keep their jobs, and be ready to get back to work as soon as practicable,” Hawley said. “Continuous employment also provides businesses with continuity and facilitates the economic rebound once the worst of the public health crisis is over.”

The plan would complement the employment efforts with measures to “bring critical supply chains back from China and overseas” and “promote domestic production of all types by American workers” to better prepare manufacturers to produce goods needed in a future outbreak.

Hawley said the U.S. found itself overly reliant on foreign powers, chiefly China, for crucial medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic and that Congress should mandate that manufacturers of finished products obtain “higher percentages of their inputs over time from domestic suppliers.”

The Missouri Republican also called on new federal policy to reward firms that invest in efforts to boost domestic production facilities.

“We don’t make critical products in America anymore. It’s a threat to our health, our national security and our economy,” said Hawley. “We need to invest in America again and protect our people. The goal is simple – If we need it, we should make it.” 

The proposal comes as Congress begins crafting a fourth coronavirus relief package to expand upon past legislation’s efforts to send money to workers and blunt the impact the coronavirus has had on a litany of industries.

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