Democratic leaders criticize GOP’s coronavirus relief bill as too pro-business

Negotiations over the bill began on Friday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed the $1 trillion coronavirus relief package released by Senate Republicans on Thursday, suggesting it benefited corporations more than American workers who have lost work as a result of the pandemic.

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“We are beginning to review Senator McConnell’s proposal and on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers,” they said in a joint statement released on Thursday night.

The proposal would send checks of up to $1,200 to taxpayers who earn less than $99,000 a year, provide loans for small businesses and large tax cuts for big corporations.

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Those tax cuts include deferring the payment of the 6.2 percent payroll tax for employers until 2021 and 2022, with half of the payroll obligations for 2020 due by Dec. 31, 2021, and the other half due by Dec. 31, 2022. The delay in payments essentially grants President Trump the payroll tax holiday that he’s pushed for over the past month.

On top of that, Republicans want to let companies carry back losses to offset against five years of prior profit, and provide more relaxed rules for business deductions of losses and interest costs.

The McConnell bill would also provide $300 billion to small businesses, with loans that would eventually be forgiven for employers who use them for payroll; $58 billion in loans for airlines, one of the industries hit hardest by the virus outbreak, and $150 billion in loans for other affected industries.

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Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, criticized the legislation earlier Thursday for tilting in favor of corporations over workers.

“The pandemic is spreading, economic collapse is looming, and Republicans seem to be prioritizing the corporate tax wish list over the economic well-being of people who are losing their livelihoods at this very moment,” Wyden said in a statement. “Their proposal would do nothing to expand unemployment assistance for those who have lost their jobs overnight.

Negotiations over the bill began on Friday.

It follows the enactment of an $8.3 billion package of emergency funding for prevention efforts and research earlier this month, and the House passage of a bill aimed at expanding the social safety net, including free COVID-19 testing, even for the uninsured, extending paid sick leave to more Americans and providing billions in funding to state and local governments for food programs and unemployment benefits.

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