Senate to pass House coronavirus bill unchanged, McConnell says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday that the Senate would pass the House’s coronavirus funding bill without changes, The Hill reported. Changes slow down the progress of the bill, so passing it without any will get the measure to the president’s desk faster.

The funding bill was passed by the House early Saturday, but was called back because of some discrepancies and questions about what it contained.

Changes were made so that only parents who were impacted by job and daycare closings from the COVID-19 pandemic could get paid family leave, and for businesses to be fully reimbursed for health care insurance they will pay for employees on leave, The Hill reported.

After corrections, the bill was revoted on Monday night, according to The Hill, and will be voted on by the Senate Wednesday.

Just the beginning

According to Politico, the Senate is already developing another bill that will provide aid to Americans affected by the coronavirus outbreak, including possible checks to all American workers.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) referenced this week a “high level of interest” from Republicans in sending up to two $1,000 checks to American workers because of the economic slowdown, Politico reported. Such a move could cost an estimated $500 billion, GOP sources said.

Closures of schools, restaurants, and non-essential stores as well as curtailing of travel have led to a significant percentage of workers whose hours have been cut or who have not been able to work.

It is hoped that closures for a 15-day period will slow the increase in infections so that hospitals and health care facilities don’t get overwhelmed.

But the restaurant industry alone is expected to lose as much as $225 billion in revenue because of being made to close dining rooms during the outbreak, the National Restaurant Association said, according to Restaurant Business.

An “extraordinary” situation

A vote to give Americans up to $2,000 each amid the global pandemic would be a huge departure for Republicans, who normally don’t support cash benefits like the ones proposed. But for his part, the Senate majority leader says desperate times call for “extraordinary measures.”

“These are not ordinary times. This is not an ordinary situation, and so it requires extraordinary measures,” McConnell said at a press conference this week, according to Politico.

Besides helping people who have had their incomes impacted by the coronavirus, promises of government assistance may also go a long way toward calming a jittery stock market, which has not liked the massive uncertainty of the pandemic and the government’s response.

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