House Democrats Introduce Families First Bill to Combat COVID-19
And to the surprise of no one, republicans hate it.
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.
-Free #coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test
-Paid emergency leave for workers
-Enhanced unemployment insurance
-Strengthened food security initiatives
-Clear protections for frontline workers
-Increased federal funds for Medicaid
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 12, 2020
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:
This is not the time for half measures.
We need to take dramatic action now to stave off the worst public health & economic affects.
That includes making moves on paid leave, debt relief, waiving work req’s, guaranteeing healthcare, UBI, detention relief(pretrial, elderly, imm)
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 12, 2020
#Coronavirus testing must be made free to the public if we are going to understand the scope of this crisis.
Anything less will undermine America’s effort to protect our communities and save lives.
RT if you agree #FamiliesFirst
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) March 12, 2020
Staying home when you’re sick shouldn’t mean losing a paycheck—especially during a public health emergency.
The Coronavirus crisis has made it abundantly clear:
America needs guaranteed paid sick leave for all. I am proud to cosponsor legislation to make this a reality. https://t.co/oIUclDpQ2B
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 9, 2020
Thrilled to announce that this is coming to the House Floor today as part of the Coronavirus Response Act! #FamiliesFirst https://t.co/qnfKybtfMt
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 12, 2020
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.
We owe it to the American people to get this right, and I am confident that if we come together as adults, we can act responsibly in the next 48 hours.
But a “my way or the highway” approach is not the right way to handle a serious health epidemic. pic.twitter.com/bDWd0G8ug0
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 12, 2020
McCarthy was joined by fellow Republicans in repudiating the bill:
Pelosi wasted the whole week behind closed doors drafting a partisan bill full of liberal fantasies that have nothing to do w/ Coronavirus.
Republicans are ready to work w/ Dems on SERIOUS solutions.
Now is not the time for politics. Pelosi needs to stop the games & work w/ us.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) March 12, 2020
Now is not the time for partisan politics. It’s our duty to lead this nation through the #COVID19 threat, and I urge Speaker Pelosi to work with Republicans to put the health and safety of the American people first.
Congress must do its job and put forward a bipartisan solution. https://t.co/FnvHC2W2zr
— Ron Wright (@RepRonWright) March 12, 2020
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.
McConnell ally says Senate won’t take up House #coronavirus bill until after recess. “The Senate will act when we come back and we have a clearer idea of what extra steps we need to take,” Sen. Lamar Alexander told reporters.
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) March 12, 2020
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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