- The Senate on Wednesday passed emergency measures to cushion the financial pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
- COVID-19 has triggered closures across the economy and encouraged Americans to hunker down at home.
- The fast-tracked bill also expands paid sick leave for some workers, though the number of those who would be covered has been significantly reduced.
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The Senate on Wednesday passed emergency measures to cushion the financial pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has triggered closures across the economy and encouraged Americans to hunker down at home.
Through increases in programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act would provide aid to those affected by the respiratory illness COVID-19 and efforts to contain it. The fast-tracked bill also expands paid sick leave for some workers, though the number of those who would be covered has been significantly reduced since its passage in the Democratic-controlled House early Saturday.
While the package includes tax credits to offset costs of paid sick leave, some Republicans argue it places unnecessary burdens on businesses. But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Republicans to “gag and vote for it anyway.” He said any perceived shortcomings could be addressed in a third stimulus package that lawmakers have started.
“At every level, the coronavirus outbreak is testing our nation and our institutions,” McConnell added. “We cannot afford partisan politics as usual.”
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President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law this week. The White House has separately pressed for an additional $1 trillion to prop up the economy, which could be combined with the third round of stimulus legislation that Capitol Hill began to negotiate at the beginning of the week.
Those are expected to include broader measures ranging from small-business assistance to emergency lump-sum payments to adults and children. An increasing number of bipartisan lawmakers have said the government should send checks directly to individuals during the pandemic, a proposal Trump expressed strong support for.
“This is a time to put tribalism aside and acknowledge that this recession, if we allow it, will do real harm to Americans up and down the income scale,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor. “And it will hurt Americans of all ages.”