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House Democrats Introduce Families First Bill to Combat COVID-19

And to the surprise of no one, republicans hate it.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill

In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the House Democrats have released a comprehensive bill to help Americans through the pandemic crisis. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives workers 14 days of paid sick leave, along with up to three months of paid family and medical leave. The bill ensures free coronavirus testing for all, whether or not they have health insurance.

The bill also provides unemployment insurance, and funding to bolster federal nutrition programs, like school lunches. $500 million would be allocated to help low-income pregnant people and families with young children who can’t work during the outbreak. $400 million would be spent to shore up food banks across the country.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement saying, “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is focused directly on providing support for America’s families, who must be our first priority in this emergency. We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested knows they can get their test free of charge. We cannot slow the coronavirus outbreak when workers are stuck with the terrible choice between staying home to avoid spreading illness and the paycheck their family can’t afford to lose.”

Pelosi’s bill received support from her party, who lauded the Speaker for decisive action:

The bill aims to mitigate suffering and suppress the spread of the virus, but guess who doesn’t want it? Republicans. GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave a press conference where he claimed to refuse “partisan politics” by, well, doing some partisan politics.

McCarthy was joined by fellow Republicans in repudiating the bill:

The urgency for this bill could not be more clear, yet Republican lawmakers are dragging their feet. Congress goes on a week-long recess next week, and according to reports, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is in no rush to enact any bills to protect the American people.

The House is expected to vote on the bill today. Will the Senate step up to the challenge or will McConnell let it die on his desk? If he does the latter, Democrats should hammer him and fellow Republicans non-stop until November.

(via Reuters, image: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.