Congress Working on Coronavirus Bill to Provide Paid Leave and More

President declares coronavirus national emergency

Lawmakers are finalizing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—which could provide free screening, paid leave and enhanced unemployment insurance benefits for people affected by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

After several days of negotiation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced that a deal was reached on March 13 with the White House to pass the bill. The House approved the bill later that night, CNN reported. The Senate will vote on the measure this week, and Trump is expected to sign it.

“Of course, senators will need to carefully review the version just passed by the House,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “But I believe the vast majority of senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses.”

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency March 13, which frees up billions of dollars to fund public health and removes restrictions on hospitals to treat more patients. The administration also announced a partnership with several major employers—including Google, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Target—to provide faster testing in local communities. 

“We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested knows they can get their test free of charge,” Pelosi said. “We cannot slow the coronavirus outbreak when workers are stuck with the terrible choice between staying home to avoid spreading illness and the paycheck their family can’t afford to lose.”

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