Democrats and labor groups are coming off celebrations of passing the American Rescue Act and passing the PRO Act in the House of Representatives. Despite the light mood, the PRO Act faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
At the forefront of the battle to pass the PRO Act has been the AFL-CIO, hosting townhalls and other events to encourage workers to let their representatives know they are in favor of the legislation. AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director Bill Samuel appeared on AWF Union Podcast to discuss the American Rescue Plan and the progress of the PRO Act.
How the American Rescue Plan will help working Americans
Samuel rejoiced that the American Rescue Plan made it to President Biden’s desk to sign. The legislation is geared at helping Americans and American industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Samuel noted that the bill passed with no Senate Republican support.
Perhaps the most important part of the bill for the labor community is the inclusion of pension funding for the next 30 years. Samuel said Senate Republicans made an effort to carve out pension funding, but the provision remained.
In terms of helping industry, furlough notices were shredded by many airlines after notice they would receive enough funding to keep people employed.
While Washington D.C. Republicans almost entirely voted against the bill, it has wide popularity throughout the country, even amongst some Republican governors and mayors. The legislation polled at 70 to 75 percent approval nationwide.
Democrats working on an infrastructure bill
Though details of a potential infrastructure bill are scant, Samuel is confident that this Congress and President will manage to get the job done.
What is known is that the bill will be based on previous proposals that had bipartisan support. While a tax increase is the main hang up for many Republicans, the increase will largely be put on America’s top earners and most wealthy businesses, such as Amazon.
Passing the PRO Act
The main goal of the labor community for the past year has been passing the PRO Act. In the same week the American Rescue Act was passed by Congress, the PRO Act was passed by the House of Representatives.
Now that the PRO Act is in the Senate, it faces a tougher path to President Biden’s desk. There are still five Democrats who are not signed on in support of the bill. Samuel believes they will get on board when the time comes.
However, the bill cannot be passed by a simple majority and will likely have no Republican support. This means Democrats will have to find a way to abide by Senate rules while still passing the PRO Act with a simple majority, which he believes they will find a way.