The U.S. House of Representatives passed a relief bill late Friday night aimed at containing the widening effects of the coronavirus on the nation's economy, public health and well-being. It's 110 pages long, so we wanted to pull out key elements that may directly affect your life.
The bill would:
- Guarantee sick leave for workers and their families affected by the coronavirus
- Bolster food aid for needy families and seniors
- Inject funds into state unemployment coffers
- Guarantee free testing for people suspected of being infected.
The bill still needs to pass the Senate. It already has the support of President Donald Trump.
I fully support H.R. 6201: Families First CoronaVirus Response Act, which will be voted on in the House this evening. This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers. I have directed....-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2020
Here are some of the bill's highlights:
Funds testing for the uninsured, veterans, Medicaid recipients and patients of the military and Native American health systems. Requires private health insurers to provide free testing, including the cost of an emergency room or clinic visit to get tested.
Requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid sick leave for people who become infected with the coronavirus or have to care for someone who is, as well as people who are quarantined or whose place of work or children's school is closed due to coronavirus. It also would provide a tax credit for businesses and self-employed individuals to cover sick leave.
EMERGENCY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE
The bill would give government employees and employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees the right to take up to three months of leave from their jobs if they have to quarantine themselves or care for a family member who is quarantined or for a child whose school has been closed.
Provides $1 billion in grant funding for states to expand unemployment benefits for people who lose their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Provides $1.15 billion for food banks and to expand food aid for seniors and low-income pregnant women and mothers. The bill would also suspend new work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. (A judge blocked the requirements from going into effect on Saturday.)
The paid sick leave exemptions for large, and in some cases, small, employers could potentially exclude nearly 20 million workers, The New York Times reported.
House Democrats say they'll introduce additional relief measures in the near future.
As the Senate works to pass #FamiliesFirst, the House will begin work on a third emergency response package to protect the health, economic security and well-being of the American people.-- Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 13, 2020
Read a summary of the bill below or read the entire bill here:
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS: