US House passes COVID-19 emergency package
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US House passes COVID-19 emergency package

The House passed a COVID-19 emergency package early this morning. The bill’s approval comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spent Friday negotiating the details of the measure.

The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R. 6201) includes numerous provisions to directly combat the spread of COVID-19. The bill requires testing of the virus to be free of charge. Additionally, it expands funds for Medicaid, so states will have resources to address spread within their communities.

The package also seeks to ease economic impacts on workers and families. It provides emergency leave for workers, which includes two weeks of paid sick leave and three months of paid family and medical leave. It also allocates more funds for unemployment insurance, suspends student loan interest, and expands food security programs.

The bill passed without a payroll tax cut, which President Trump has publicly requested. Opponents of that provision argue that it would fail to put resources in the hands of people who lost their jobs due to the virus outbreak. Additionally, the bill does not make paid emergency leave permanent for future public health crises, which Democrats sought, rather the provisions will only be temporary.

Trump signaled support for the measure last night. It passed in a bipartisan fashion, with a 363-40 vote. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill early next week.