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Rep. Huizenga tests positive for COVID-19

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Following the surge of officials in Washington, DC contracting the novel coronavirus over the past couple of weeks, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) added his name to the growing list, announcing on Wednesday that he has tested positive.

“Earlier today, I was expected to appear with the Vice President,” wrote Rep. Huizenga. “While taking part in offsite testing protocols, I took a rapid test that came back positive for COVID-19.”

“I am awaiting the results of a PCR test,” he added, “and I am self isolating until I have confirmed results.”

After President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and advisor Hope Hicks announced in recent weeks that they had tested positive, a tsunami of officials in the nation’s capital reported that they had also contracted the virus. President Trump was forced to quarantine himself, taking up much-needed time away from the 2020 campaign trail, where every single day and event are critical to him and his re-election effort.

As of last Friday, the White House doctor reported that the president is “no longer considered a transmission risk to others.” He is now conducting in-person campaign events and rallies again.

Many experts have theorized that the event they’ve dubbed a “superspreader” which caused this outbreak was likely the Saturday, September 26 White House ceremony where the president announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Many of those who later revealed that they caught the virus attended this event.

Just a sliver of the list of those in D.C. who were infected include Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany; Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel; Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.); multiple national security officials; and among dozens more officials and staffers. Significant figures such as Vice President Mike Pence, Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is Biden’s running mate, tested negative for the virus.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Economy

NY Lawmakers want to tax tech giants to get $500M to fund unemployment benefits for illegal migrants

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New York lawmakers are debating over a proposed Democratic initiative that would pave the way for a multibillion-dollar fund designed to provide unemployment benefits for illegal immigrants. Spearheaded by state Senator Jessica Ramos, a Queens Democrat, the proposal has ignited passionate discussions within the Senate Finance Committee, where it currently awaits further deliberation.

The Center Square reports the proposal would utilize a $500 million trust fund earmarked specifically to offer jobless benefits for individuals who find themselves ineligible for traditional unemployment payments and other public assistance programs. To finance this ambitious endeavor, proponents of the plan are advocating for the imposition of a novel tax targeting tech behemoths like Google and Amazon. This tax, aimed at digital advertising revenue, is projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars to sustain the fund.

Ramos has alluded to her belief that migrants are a fundamental contribution to the state’s economy. Despite their authorization to work, payment of taxes, and active involvement in the labor force, undocumented immigrants face a glaring disparity—they are excluded from accessing vital safety nets like unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs.

In a social media post, Ramos cited the expiration of federal unemployment insurance for freelancers and the depletion of the Excluded Workers Fund. She argues vehemently for a safety net aligned with the evolving dynamics of the labor market, one that extends support to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.

The proposed fund, aptly named the Unemployment Bridge Program, outlines comprehensive eligibility criteria encompassing a spectrum of marginalized workers—from undocumented migrants to freelancers and individuals recently released from incarceration or immigrant detention. By establishing clear guidelines and procedures, the program endeavors to streamline the application process, ensuring equitable access to unemployment benefits for those in need.

The initiative comes in the wake of prolonged deliberations regarding jobless benefits for undocumented immigrants and nontraditional workers in New York. Amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state previously allocated $2.1 billion to the Excluded Workers Fund, offering a lifeline to those excluded from conventional unemployment benefits.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 underscores a commitment to supporting asylum seekers, with significant allocations directed towards housing and legal assistance. The proposal has met with opposition from Republicans, who argue for prioritizing legal residents and taxpayers in the allocation of state resources. Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt contends that limited resources should be reserved exclusively for those who have contributed to the state’s tax base.

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