In a rare show of bipartisanship, lawmakers in the House on Saturday, in a 363-40, vote approved a coronavirus response package negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
All House Democrats supported the plan while 40 Republicans opposed it. Rep. Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan who is a former Republican, voted “present.”
Prior to the vote, which occurred shortly before 1 a.m. ET Saturday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., spoke to reporters about the deal that had been worked out, saying “some things needed to be cleaned up.”
Before the vote, President Trump said Friday night that he supported the package — in an apparent effort to get skeptical House Republicans on board with the legislation.
“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 …”
It is now up the Senate, but sources speaking to Fox news said, that if the measure passed the House with an overwhelming majority, (which it has) the Senate would take it up this week.
Earlier Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and announced partnerships with major U.S. companies to expand testing capabilities.
“This legislation is about testing, testing, testing,” Pelosi said. “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.”
According to the speaker, the bill includes paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. “We have also secured enhanced unemployment insurance, a step that will extend protections to furloughed workers,” she said.
Pelosi also said the bill will include nutrition security initiatives “including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks.” The Democrat said “22 million children rely on free or reduced-price school meals for their food security; we must ensure that they have food to eat.”
She also said the bill will include increased federal funds for Medicaid to support local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems “so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, said, “This is a really good sign that shows bipartisanship, that we can overcome this virus. It was very important to get this done before anybody departed.”
Trump had pressed for a payroll tax holiday to give some economic relief to Americans, but Pelosi has not included that in this bill, though she’s signaled more legislation could be needed as the scope and hurt of the pandemic is fully realized.