Updated Mar 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House passes coronavirus emergency aid package with Trump's endorsement

Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The House passed a sweeping coronavirus relief package shortly before 1 a.m. EST on Saturday with a 363-40 vote after President Trump declared a national emergency over the virus outbreak.

Driving the news: President Trump endorsed the deal Friday evening on Twitter, prior to its vote in the House.

Why it matters: Securing the White House's backing is a critical step in clearing a legislative logjam that will allow Congress to move forward despite intense partisan gridlock.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled the chamber's planned recess to take up the package, though McConnell had derided House Democrats' first stab at coronavirus legislation as an "ideological wishlist."

Details: The package seeks to address many of everyday Americans' concerns as businesses and schools continue to shut down amid the outbreak. It includes:

  • Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured.
  • Two weeks of guaranteed paid sick leave, as well as increased family leave.
  • Increased support for unemployment benefits.
  • Works to strengthen programs that provide school lunches for students who rely on them.
  • A bump in Medicaid funding.

What they're saying: "As the Senate works to pass this bill, the House will begin work on a third emergency response package to protect the health, economic security and well-being of the American people. We will do so in continued consultation with scientists, researchers, health care professionals, public health officials and community leaders, so that we can craft the most effective, evidence-based response," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Friday.

  • “It was remarkably irresponsible and out of touch for Senator McConnell to send senators out of town for the weekend in the middle of this public health crisis and before the House passed this vital people-focused legislation. Senator McConnell and Republicans should pass this legislation as is immediately so it can get to the president’s desk so he can sign it right away," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on Friday.

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White House, Congress reach deal on $2 trillion coronavirus relief package

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves a meeting in the Strom Thurmond Room during negotiations in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After days of intense negotiations, the White House and Republican and Democratic Senate leaders struck a bipartisan deal early Wednesday over a $2 trillion stimulus package designed to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: The emergency legislation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised to pass later Wednesday will deliver vital aid to workers, small businesses, corporations and health care providers under strain from the illness, which has infected more than 55,000 people in the U.S. and killed more than 800.

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Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,600 in the U.S. Sunday night, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

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Clyburn says House coronavirus committee won't investigate Trump

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the coronavirus committee created by Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will oversee how the $2 trillion stimulus bill is distributed during the pandemic, not the federal government's initial response to the virus.

What he's saying: "This is not about the president of the United States or even the independent counsel or the inspector general. This is about focusing on how the money is spent, whether or not the people who are getting the money are actually working on behalf of the American people, or whether or not they are profiteering."