Last night, Congress passed the second coronavirus relief bill and Trump signed it into law.
Although there were several delays (looking at YOU, Mitch McConnell) in getting this bill passed, it is now law. This is what’s in it:
- guarantees free coronavirus testing for all Americans
- expands paid sick days for a subset of workers (it does not apply to companies with more than 500 employees, for example)
- gives states extra funding for unemployment insurance and food assistance (including SNAP and WIC)
- creates a new federal emergency paid leave program for those caring for a child due to coronavirus-related school closings
As with all legislation, there are various compromises that are negotiated, and this bill doesn’t cover nearly everything that our country will need as the health crisis deepens and the economic shock becomes more apparent.
Nancy Pelosi did respond to the criticism regarding leaving larger companies out of this bill, though:
Considering the windfall they received from the Republicans’ tax bill in 2018, I’m inclined to agree with the Speaker.
A couple of weeks ago, the first relief bill was signed into law. That law was primarily focused on coronavirus prevention, preparation and response efforts. Some of the provisions included a boost in funding for testing; paying for new medical supplies such as masks; allocating more than $300 million to ensure that when a vaccine is developed that citizens will be able to access it regardless of their ability to pay; and allows Medicare beneficiaries to access telehealth programs.
Going forward, Congress is working on a third coronavirus bill to tackle economic concerns. The discussions include such issues as payments to small businesses, loan guarantees for industries like airlines and hotels, and a stimulus package for workers.
As always, let’s be in touch with our Senators and Representatives to tell them what we need to see in these bills. This is going to be a bumpy ride, and they’re in the best position to help us.