A coronavirus emergency aid package that will extend paid sick and family leave to U.S. workers was reportedly passed by the Senate on Wednesday and moves to the president’s desk for his signature.
Approved by a vote of 90-8, the bill was considered the second phase of Congress’ effort to blunt the impact of the pandemic that has closed restaurants and bars and put a stranglehold on American society. The House approved a version of the bill on Saturday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there still may be changes made in the next wave of legislation.
Lawmakers are reportedly continuing to work on a much larger $1 trillion economic stimulus package that includes a proposal to send cash to all Americans to boost spending and help them pay bills, as well as address the needs of small businesses hurt by the effort to slow the spread of the virus.
The legislation approved by the Senate Wednesday will:
- Offer two weeks of full-pay sick and family leave to workers who are in quarantine or helping family members with COVID-19, or who have children whose schools have closed because of the virus.
- A total of 12 weeks of paid leave to many of those with children in schools that have closed. Workers will get about 67% of their normal salary for this period.
- Bolster unemployment insurance
- Offer free coronavirus testing
- Boost the SNAP food assistance program and federal funding for Medicaid.
McConnell has pledged that the Senate will remain in session until Congress reaches an agreement on the third phase of the recovery effort.
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