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Mitt Romney sides with Democrats calling for $12 hourly raises for essential workers

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has followed demands of pay raises for essential workers with a proposal of his own.

Romney proposed Friday that essential workers "who are necessarily subject to greater risk of COVID-19" receive hourly bonuses of up to $12 in the form of a tax credit. His proposal comes a month after several Democratic senators suggested $13/hour raises for essential workers that would be retroactive from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers would have to opt in to what Romney is calling "Patriot Pay" and start paying workers a bonus for the government funding to activate. The federal government would triple what the employer offers and add it to the worker's paycheck as an additional bonus, up to a total of $12; For example grocery workers getting a $3/hour bonus from worker would get an extra $9/hour from the government.

Workers would have to collect the payments by submitting a claim to the IRS; Romney did suggest the IRS partner with payroll companies to distribute the money faster. Those bonuses start phasing out if a person makes $50,000 annually, and end entirely at $90,000. Payments also would only start in May and last through July.

Senate Democrats proposed a COVID-19 "heroes fund" in early April that was a bit simpler than Romney's Patriot Pay. It would extend a "$25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers, equivalent to a raise of $13 per hour from the start of the public health emergency" through the end of the year. It would also offer a $15,000 essential worker recruitment incentive to hire and maintain health care workers.