Work on the Democrat-proposed Families First Coronavirus Response Act continued Thursday afternoon as Democrat and Republican lawmakers attempted to reach a compromise.
Politico reports that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are working to reach a deal before Congress goes into a week-long recess.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), however, called the proposal an “ideological wish list.”
McConnell also said Thursday that the Senate could cancel a planned recess and stay in session.
Original story appears below.
House Democrats Wednesday evening introduced a multi-billion-dollar bill in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that includes emergency provisions with paid sick leave, free testing, food aid, and unemployment insurance, according to Politico.
The report states the House is expected to vote on the measure Thursday afternoon. Republicans and the White House are aware of the provisions in the bill, but Politico states they have not announced their position on the legislation.
“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," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in a statement. "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."
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) said on Twitter Thursday morning that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides people with health coverage, food assistance, and financial support they need to cope with “widespread consequences” of COVID-19.
“This bill reflects our responsibility to stand with the American people as we confront this crisis,” Scott said on social media.
Politico added that the proposal came after President Donald Trump’s Oval Office Address Wednesday evening. The President announced several emergency measures, including a 30-day ban on foreign nationals entering the U.S. from many European countries.
During his address, Trump called for a payroll tax to millions to help alleviate the economic issues the virus has caused.
“Alarmingly, the president did not say how the administration will address the lack of coronavirus testing kits throughout the United States,” Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement late Wednesday.
"Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow," the President stated during his address.
Insurance companies will also be waiving copayments on coronavirus treatments and extend payments for these treatments. President Trump also announced his plan for workers who will need to be staying home.
"I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief," President Trump said. "This will be targeted at workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus."
President Trump is also instructing the small business administration to provide capital liquidity to affected firms, and he stated he will be asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion.
During an address at the Oval Office, President Trump said he does not support the proposed House bill because it has items that have "nothing to do" with the disease.
FHFA Director Dr. Mark Calabria in a statement, "To meet the needs of borrowers who may be impacted by the coronavirus, last week Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reminded mortgage servicers that hardship forbearance is an option for borrowers who are unable to make their monthly mortgage payment. For borrowers that may be experiencing a hardship, I encourage you to reach out to your servicer. The Enterprises and the Federal Home Loan Banks continue to provide support to the secondary mortgage market, and the UMBS market continues to operate at its normal level.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, sent letters to Administration officials, regulators, and credit reporting agencies expressing concerns about risks related to COVID-19 and the steps they are taking to prevent Americans and the financial system from being harmed.
“While our federal regulators, agencies, and financial institutions must take action to protect consumers and our economy, I must emphasize that it is unacceptable to use this crisis as an excuse to justify rollbacks of important financial regulations that are in place to protect our financial system and economy,” Congresswoman Waters wrote in her letter.