House Passes Trump-Backed Coronavirus Relief Bill, Senate Expected to Vote Monday
The bill includes paid sick leave for impacted workers and free COVID-19 testing
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The House of Representatives passed legislation early Saturday to provide relief to Americans affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) one day after President Donald Trump said he was in full support of the agreement.
The Family First Coronavirus Response Act passed with a vast majority vote of 363-40, with 40 Republicans voting against the measure and one Independent voting “present,” according to CNN.
The vote came after days of negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, ending with Trump’s support of the bill as seen in a series of tweets on Friday night.
“This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers,” Trump tweeted late Friday.
“I have directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations that will provide flexibility so that in no way will Small Businesses be hurt. I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES! I will always put the health and well-being of American families FIRST,” he wrote.
On Saturday, the president commended both parties for coming together to pass the bill, tweeting it was “nice to see!”
According to Pelosi, the bill will secure “testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured” and puts measures in place for families’ “economic security,” “food security,” and “health security,” she explained on Twitter.
While the bill is ready to move to the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in his home state of Kentucky for the weekend, deferring the vote until next week.
“This is a public health crisis & a meltdown of the U.S. economy. The country cant wait 60 hours until Monday night @senatemajldr. Cancel your Kentucky events, head back to Washington, reconvene the Senate & #passthebill,” tweeted Hawaiian state senator Kai Kahele.
According to USA Today, the Senate is expected to vote Monday on the relief bill.
In a press conference on Friday, Trump declared a national emergency — “two very big words” — as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the nation and the rest of the world. He said that declaration would unlock about $50 billion in emergency funds that the federal government can use to further support efforts to combat the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease.
As of March 14, there have been at least 2,195 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 49 deaths in the United States, according to The New York Times.
Several states have declared a state of emergency to redirect funding, and public schools in Ohio, Maryland, New Mexico, Michigan, Oregon and the District of Columbia have closed in response.