Talking Points from Congress
From the Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, March 19, 2020, at 12:06:21 PM EDT
The American people need and deserve a coordinated, fully-funded, whole-of-government response to keep them and their loved ones safe from the coronavirus epidemic. Since Day One of this crisis, House Democrats have been hard at work delivering a response that puts Families First while stimulating the economy.
Two weeks ago, House Democrats took the first step, passing a bipartisan emergency response funding package of $8.3 billion of entirely new funds, which the president has signed:
- Commits more than $3 billion to the development of treatments and a vaccine available to all, and protects against price-gouging of medicines developed with taxpayer dollars.
- Provides $2.2 billion in prevention, preparedness and response measures, including nearly a billion dollars to help state, local, tribal and territorial health systems.
- Helps families by extending telemedicine services regardless of where they live and supports small businesses, with billions in low-interest SBA loans to those affected.
Last week, we took the next step, passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which takes smart, science-based measures to put Families First, which the Senate has passed and President Trump has signed into law.
- For families’ health security: this legislation ensures free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. Our legislation also increases funding for Medicaid to support local, state, tribal and territorial health systems, so that they have the resources needed to combat this public health emergency.
- For families’ economic security: our bill provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of family and medical leave for eligible workers and enhances Unemployment Insurance. It also supports small businesses by fully reimbursing them for providing leave.
- For families’ food security: our legislation strengthens nutrition initiatives including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ meals and food banks.
During negotiations on this bill, we were proud to have staved off the administration’s attempt to eliminate workers’ health care guaranteed under the Family and Medical Leave Act mandate. Democrats will always uphold the bedrock promise that workers are entitled to the continuation of group health coverage, wages and job security when they use long-term leave. We also successfully secured a refundable tax credit for employers who provide that health care during their family medical leave.
Now, our committee chairs are hard at work on advancing our third Families First coronavirus response package, which must take bold, historic action. This bill will be crafted in consultation with the public health, labor, non-profit and business communities, so that we can deliver the most effective, evidence-based response, which will be progressive, visionary and fast-acting. Solutions under consideration include ways to put money quickly in the hands of Americans, such as expanding eligibility for Unemployment Insurance and ensuring that workers continue to be paid, with refundable tax credits including the EITC and the child tax credit.
During this difficult time, House Democrats will continue to work relentlessly to protect families’ health, economic security and well-being.