Approving $100 billion to address COVID-19: Voting 90-8, the Senate on Wednesday approved a $100 billion safety-net and economic stimulus package to help families, individuals and small and medium-size businesses cope with the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The bill (HR 6201) would fund free virus testing for all who request it, emergency food aid and enhanced unemployment benefits.
In addition, the bill would authorize 10 days' paid sick leave through December to individuals and households affected by the pandemic. The payments would have to be at least two-thirds of normal pay and capped at $1,000 per week. But companies with 500 or more employees, which account for slightly more than half of the U.S. workforce, would be exempted from having to pay sick leave, and those with fewer than 50 workers, which supply about a quarter of the private work force, could request hardship exemptions.
The bill also would provide workers at companies affected by the coronavirus with up to 15 days' paid medical and family leave, which would kick in after expiration of the sick leave. As with sick leave, firms employing more than 500 workers would be exempted and those with fewer than 50 workers could seek exemptions.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the White House.
Robert Menendez, D: YES
Cory Booker, D: YES
Declining to expand sick leave and family leave: Voting 47-51, the Senate on Wednesday turned back a Democrat-sponsored measure to amend HR 6201 (above) to include more inclusive paid sick leave during the coronavirus pandemic and first-time, permanent availability of paid leave to the private sector during all types of emergencies under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act. A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
Keeping paid sick leave under federal control: Voting 50-48, the Senate failed to reach a 60-vote threshold for adopting a Republican-sponsored bid to transfer the administration of paid sick leave in HR 6201 (above) from employers and federal agencies to state-run unemployment insurance programs. A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
Declining to offset cost of coronavirus bill: On a tally of three for and 95 against, the Senate on Wednesday defeated an amendment that sought to offset the projected $100 billion cost of HR 6201 (above) by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. The amendment also sought to limit the payment of the bill's child tax-credits to families with a Social Security number, a provision seen by critics as anti-immigrant. A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
Source: Richard Thomas, Voterama in Congress