The House passed a sweeping coronavirus response package Saturday that includes $1 billion in food aid, extends paid sick leave and broadens access to free virus testing.

The bipartisan bill passed easily 363-40 after receiving the support of President Donald Trump on Friday. Action stalled in Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take it up until next week.

“I fully support H.R. 6201: Families First CoronaVirus Response Act, which will be voted on in the House this evening,” Trump tweeted. “This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers.”

He continued: “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. Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) thanked Trump for his support in getting the bill passed.

“[W]e thought it would be important to show the American people, assure the American people, that we are willing and able to work together to get a job done for them,” Pelosi said. “So we thank our Republicans — those who will be supporting the bill. We appreciate the president joining us with his tweet.”

The bill provides 14 days of paid sick leave for employees, as well as three months of paid emergency leave throughout the coronavirus crisis. The federal government will reimburse employers for some of those costs through tax credits.

Republicans insisted on exempting smaller businesses from the paid leave requirement, and negotiated for the emergency leave clause to expire in a year.

The legislation also provides free food for children who rely on free or reduced meals from schools that have closed during the pandemic, as well as initiatives to help senior citizens and food banks.

One of the most expensive provisions of the bill is free testing, as the U.S. has been slowed in its response to the virus due to a shortage of testing kits.

“This legislation is about testing, testing, testing,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to her colleagues. “To stop the spread of the virus, we have secured free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested can get their test free of charge.”

Both Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) commended the House for their display of bipartisan teamwork.

“I think this was a very good sign of bipartisanship and working together, that we can overcome this virus. We’ve done much bigger things before,” McCarthy told reporters shortly after the deal was reached.

Trump chimed in on Twitter saying, “Good teamwork between Republicans & Democrats as the House passes the big CoronaVirus Relief Bill. People really pulled together. Nice to see!”

Read more about:

Get the free uPolitics mobile app for the latest political news and videos

iPhone Android

Leave a comment