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Ernst Introduces New Bill to Reward COVID-19 Front Line Workers

The bill includes a payroll and income tax holiday and has the support of 27 industry groups

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today introduced her new bill to allow essential workers on the front lines of COVID-19 to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.

“Our essential workers have risen to the challenge and continued in their daily jobs – to care for and protect Iowans, to produce and deliver food and essential goods, and to uphold our nation’s critical infrastructure throughout this pandemic,” said Senator Ernst. “These front line workers—our nurses, truck drivers, and grocery store workers, child care providers, and so many others—have kept life going and our supply chains intact. These men and women are putting the interests of their fellow Americans ahead of their own. Each and every morning they wake up and go to work, and they should be rewarded for their selfless service.”

Under Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act, federal income taxes would be suspended for essential workers up to an annual income cap set at the highest level of pay for an enlisted person in the U.S. Armed Forces. Additionally, the bill would provide suspension of federal payroll taxes for essential workers who earn up to $50,000 annually.

A number of industry groups—including the National Restaurant Association, the Food Industry Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, and 24 other– wrote a letter in support of Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act. You can read that here.

“The FRNT LINE Act provides important tax benefits to essential food and agriculture workers, including restaurant workers. We’re proud to support this bill which helps ensure we can continue feeding our communities and supporting our supply chain partners, ” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, National Restaurant Association.

“The grocery industry and the food supply chain that supports it have worked tirelessly to keep food available to American customers during the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of tremendous challenges. The FRNT LINE Act appropriately recognizes these efforts and gives our frontline associates well-deserved tax relief for their commitment to ensuring that grocery stores are open and stocked continuously during this national emergency.  FMI greatly appreciates Senator Ernst’s leadership on this important legislation,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, The Food Industry Association.

“As the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) poll conducted by Morning Consult finds, a vast majority of U.S. voters across all political spectrums strongly support providing temporary tax relief to our essential workers in food, agriculture, grocery stores and other important parts of the food supply chain,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of IDFA. “We are grateful to Senator Ernst of Iowa for introducing legislation to do just that—honor the men and women performing essential services that keep us fed and protected every day throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We urge all members of Congress to support Senator Ernst’s bill and a similar House bill (H.R. 6841), which would provide targeted relief to workers on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Our employees have done an outstanding job providing an essential service through this pandemic,” said Fareway President and CEO Reynolds W. Cramer. “In addition to our efforts internally over the past few months, we appreciate Senator Ernst’s efforts to recognize them for their unwavering commitment through this unparalleled time.”

For a one-pager on Ernst’s FRNT LINE Act, click here.

For bill text of the FRNT LINE Act, click here.

In April, Ernst wrote an op-ed on about her proposal to reward essential workers. Read that here.