House passes midnight H. R. 6201 Bill to beat corona virus.

Image: Kelly McCarthy

Democrats put the bill on the floor shortly after midnight and passed it in the early hours of Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate, which is expected to take it up as early as Monday.

The bill’s bipartisan background saw the voting at 363-40. The Bill has the president’s approval, and when asked Pelosi said she had had no need to talk to him and congratulated Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for his work clearing passages of the bill with the Executive Branch. She urged Republicans to support the bill.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act 

This bill responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.

Specifically, the bill provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nutrition and food assistance programs, including

the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); and nutrition assistance grants for U.S. territories. The bill also provides FY2020 appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for nutrition programs that assist the elderly.

The supplemental appropriations provided by the bill are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.

The bill modifies USDA food assistance and nutrition programs to

allow certain waivers to requirements for the school meal programs, suspend the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program), and allow states to request waivers to provide certain emergency SNAP benefits. In addition, the bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers.

The bill also includes provisions that

establish a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak, expand unemployment benefits and provide grants to states for processing and paying claims, require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, establish requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers, treat personal respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures that are eligible for certain liability protections, and temporarily increase the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).