Posted by 19 March 2020
On Wednesday, President Trump signed legislation aimed at offsetting the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The House voted 363-40 to pass HR 6201 on Saturday. The Senate followed suit on Wednesday by a vote of 90-8. Among other things, this legislation includes:
- A paid sick leave mandate that covers businesses with fewer than 500 employees
- Waivers for health insurers to provide cost-free testing
- An increase in federal Medicaid payments
- More funding for federal food programs
- A ban on tougher work requirements for food stamps
- $1 billion in additional unemployment insurance funding for the states
In the House of Representatives, some members objected that they did not know what they were voting on and complaints about being forced to vote too quickly on a massive aid bill. While the House of Representatives is on recess this week, it did convene a brief session on Monday to approve legislation that contained dozens of pages of technical corrections to the original bill.
In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) offered an amendment that would end military activities in Afghanistan and make permanent a federal requirement to provide a Social Security number to claim the child tax credit. He argued these could help offset the cost of the bill. Senators voted down his amendment on a 3-95 vote. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) also attempted to amend the bill by removing the federal sick leave mandate and replacing it with a state grant program. While this amendment received a vote of 50-48, it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass.
Those who voted in favor of it said it was necessary to aid in an economic meltdown that is happening in response to the coronavirus. However, some conservative members of the House said that the bill was considered too quickly and contained things that were unrelated to the coronavirus.
This was the second bill dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate is now considering an even larger aid package that will likely be voted on next week.
What do you think the federal government should do to respond to the coronavirus pandemic?