Progressive Democrats’ embrace of some kind of federal jobs guarantee program—harkening back to a policy prescription issued in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union address—got a boost on Tuesday in the form of a new House bill.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a freshman member who recently also joined the “Medicare for All” caucus, will introduce the Job Opportunities for All Act on Tuesday with nine additional co-sponsors, including Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY).
“In the richest country on earth, no one should be denied the opportunity to earn a living. 75 years after President Roosevelt recognized this fundamental right, it is time to act,” Khanna said in a statement. “This pragmatic and comprehensive legislation will accomplish his vision. The bill provides the tools to get our people back to work, whether one is laid off due to a factory closing, is a victim of racial discrimination, or has faced a long battle with homelessness.”
The bill, according to Khanna’s office, would appropriate funds from the Department of Labor to provide for federally subsidized employment. It would impose placement lengths for the program, opportunities in the private sector, and varied income levels, making it more of a compromise in certain respects than the similar bills being proposed in the Senate.
Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) legislation would create a pilot program for a federal jobs guarantee initiative in 15 communities throughout the country with particularly high unemployment. The program would last three years in those communities. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) bill would be much more expansive.
Khanna’s House bill would place people in jobs for an 18-month period with a possible 12-month extension—with a requirement that they remain in the job for at least three months.
To be eligible, according to the bill, workers must be at least 18 years old and be out of work for more than 90 days, or have earning below poverty level for the previous six months.
The Department of Labor would manage grants that are provided with preference given to “applicants in areas facing acute challenges, including but not limited to persistent racial unemployment gap, drug addiction epidemics, or high mortality rates.”