U.S. Chamber of Commerce Says Coronavirus Outbreak 'Isn't the Time' for Dems to Push for Paid Sick Leave

In a Thursday letter to Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged lawmakers not to pass coronavirus-related economic relief bills that were "poorly tailored to the situation." Mentioned specifically in the letter was the issue of paid sick leave for those affected by coronavirus.

House Democrats included paid sick leave in their financial proposal package yesterday. If passed, not only would employers allow employees to accrue up to 7 paid sick days that could be used before a public health emergency, but employers would be required to "provide a separate amount of 14 days of paid sick leave that is immediately available at the beginning of any public health emergency, including in the current crisis."

In its letter, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the current coronavirus outbreak "should not be used as an opportunity to try to pass legislation that is poorly tailored to the situation and will not be signed into law."

"In particular, we recognize the need to address the larger issues related to paid sick leave," the letter continued. "This emergency bill should not create a federal, one-size-fits-all, permanent leave mandate on employers. Those are longer term issues that should be addressed in separate legislation, and we intend to be helpful in seeking a solution to that issue."

Newsweek reached out to the Chamber for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Democratic coronavirus emergency financial proposals on Wednesday. Samuel Corum/Getty

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opposition to the Democratic proposals while speaking to the Senate Thursday, calling it "an ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances."

"Instead of working within existing law and within existing systems to deliver targeted relief as efficiently and effectively as possible," McConnell said, "the speaker's proposal would stand up a needless thicket of new bureaucracy."

At a Wednesday press conference, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer defended the Democrat's proposals which he said were "aimed at people, not at big corporations."

"The president seems to be more worried about the health of the big banks than the health of Americans," Schumer said. "It seems that the president is more eager to help the oil companies than help the person who lost his job because of corona. We don't believe that works."

"We're telling President Trump, and we're saying to the country: the best way to deal with the economic problems is to focus on the people who have suffered from this virus," Schumer added, "not some scattershot approach that the ideologues in the White House may want."

Proposals from the White House include a payroll tax cut for both employers and employees. Since payroll taxes fund both Medicare and Social Security, some Democrats have claimed that idea has greater benefits for companies.

Trump has also called for the deferment of tax payments for some individuals and companies that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

"This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy," said a Wednesday statement from the White House.

Congress is also being asked to authorize a funding increase of $50 billion for the Small Business Administration to offer loans to coronavirus impacted businesses.