March 21, 2020

Senator Warren, Congressman Doggett, & Congressional Progressive Caucus Leaders Pocan & Jayapal, Continue Call for Conditions on Corporate Bailouts in Next Stimulus Bill

Senator Warren was the first to propose a specific set of strings be attached to bailouts and has released draft legislative text; Chairmen Doggett and DeFazio led letter calling for similar conditions for major corporations signed by 100 House Members; Progressive Caucus Chairs Pocan and Jayapal sent letter to Speaker Pelosi urging worker-centered conditions on bailout

Washington, DC -- United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), today called for strict guardrails to be included in any stimulus package that uses taxpayer dollars to bail out large corporations, in order to ensure the stimulus reaches workers and their families first.

"Delivering real relief to workers and families in this crisis means Congress must put strings on any bailout money going to big companies," said Senator Warren. "Taxpayer money must be used to keep people on payrolls and ensure companies don't repeat the mistakes of the past."

"No more bailouts without corporate boundaries," said Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Lloyd Doggett. "With so much taxpayer money at stake, we must all be in this together.  Any bailout must enforce strict limitations on major corporations who, in the last crisis, took care of their shareholders and CEOs while leaving workers behind."

"As Congress considers using taxpayer dollars for industry bailouts, it's essential that we ensure these funds are used to benefit workers facing unprecedented economic hardship. Under no circumstances should funds be used to benefit wealthy executives or line the pockets of shareholders," said CPC Co-Chairs Congressman Mark Pocan and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. "As we wrote in our letter to Speaker Pelosi this week, it's essential that this is a worker-centered stimulus that keeps families afloat and holds corporations and their executives accountable."

On Thursday, the CPC Co-Chairs Pocan and Jayapal sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi outlining key provisions that are necessary for the next stimulus bill -- including explicit conditions for  worker-centered industry assistance such as capping senior executive pay at no more than 50 times the pay of their median worker, maintaining payroll, and protecting collective bargaining rights.

As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks layoffs and economic hardship across America, 100 lawmakers have joined U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, and U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, in urging that any bailout include similar strict corporate accountability measures for large companies.

Senator Warren was the first to lay out a detailed list of conditions any industry seeking bailouts should have to meet in order to ensure that funds reach the people who need it most in this crisis -- workers and families. Today she released draft legislative text requiring any large entity receiving assistance through the stimulus meet and maintain a set of strict conditions, and imposing clawbacks and potential criminal penalties for senior executives if companies fail to maintain compliance with bailout terms. The draft legislation from Warren outlines the following criteria for stimulus assistance:

  1. Companies must maintain their payrolls and use funds to keep people working or on payroll.
  2. Companies must provide a $15 minimum wage as quickly as practicable but no later than one year of the national emergency declaration ending.
  3. Companies are permanently prohibited from engaging in share repurchases.
  4. Companies are prohibited from paying out dividends or executive bonuses while they are receiving any relief and for three years thereafter.
  5. Companies must set aside at least one seat -- but potentially two or more, as the amount of relief increases -- on the board of directors for representatives elected by workers.
  6. Collective bargaining agreements should remain in place and should not be reopened or renegotiated pursuant to this relief program.
  7. Corporations must obtain shareholder and board approval for all political expenditures.
  8. CEOs must be required to personally certify a company is compliance and face criminal penalties for violating these certifications.

To ensure that these conditions are met, Congress must set up an oversight body, modeled on the Congressional Oversight Panel and the SIGTARP program for the bank bailout, but with real funding and subpoena power.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi have called for strings attached to bailouts, and earlier this evening, Senator Schumer indicated that such conditions are on the negotiating table as both sides finalize a third stimulus package. President Trump has said -- and repeated -- that bailouts for big business should come with strings attached. A number of Senate Republicans have agreed.