(UnitedVoice.com) – Wednesday night, President Trump signed into law a second coronavirus aid package that provides unemployment help, free testing for all Americans, and paid sick leave. On March 6, Trump signed the first coronavirus related bill into law that provided $8.3 billion to combat the virus. Fundings allocated under the new bill will go towards buying masks and protective equipment for healthcare workers, vaccine development, community health centers, state and local health departments, and fighting the spread of the virus internationally.
Now a third measure is in the works and could pass through the Senate as soon as tonight.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On Saturday, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and on Wednesday the Senate passed it with a wide bipartisan vote of 90-8. Concerns about the bill negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was far-ranging in the Republican-led Senate. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asked Senate Republicans to “gag and vote for it anyway.”
The legislation provides 14 days of sick pay to full-time workers affected by COVID-19, ensures free testing for every American, expands food aid to those in need, and increases money to unemployment in the states for those let go due to the outbreak.
Eight Republicans Vote Against Bill to Protect Small Businesses
Eight Republicans objected to the law over mandates on small businesses that require them to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Many small businesses do not have the cash flow to accommodate such programs on their own. Business overall has dropped off due to government shutdowns of non-essential businesses, social distancing, and, in some cases, “sheltering in place” orders by local governments.
The law provides for a federal tax credit reimbursement, but senators argued many small businesses cannot wait for that to take effect when immediate cash flow has evaporated. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said small businesses in his state were struggling, have no income, and can’t pay for sick leave. He said small business owners were telling him they are on the edge and are attempting not to fall off the cliff.
The eight Republican Senators who voted against the bill were:
- Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
- James Inhofe (R-OK)
- Ron Johnson (R-WI)
- James Lankford (R-OK)
- Mike Lee (R-UT)
- Rand Paul (R-KY)
- Ben Sasse (R-NE)
- Tim Scott (R-SC)
Stimulus Bill Up Next — Money for Every Individual
Capitol Hill’s attention has quickly turned to a third round of stimulus policies to help every American as the COVID-19 becomes more widespread and damaging to people’s financial lives. The initial proposal includes approximately $1 trillion of government infusion into the economy by providing direct cash to workers and businesses.
The Trump administration is proposing $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting on April 6. Another $250 billion will be paid again beginning on May 18. The two payments would be the same. However, the amount of money an individual receives would vary by income and family size.
One Of the multiple ideas Congress is mulling over includes a check between $1,000 and $2,000 for Americans. Democrat Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) are calling for a $2,000 monthly check to be sent to families for the duration of the crisis.
In addition to direct cash payments, the administration’s proposal would also provide $50 billion in loans to the airline industry and $150 billion more to “severely distressed sectors of the US economy.” Finally, an additional $300 billion would be used to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
McConnell has stressed that the Senate will not leave until a bill is passed. The details are constantly changing and, at this point, anything can happen. The one thing Congress and the president recognizes is America is in a unique situation and that people need help.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
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