The Senate voted 90-8 Wednesday (March 18) afternoon to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will provide sick leave, expanded unemployment insurance and food assistance, and free testing for the virus.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Senate Republicans and the Trump administration were “going to try and reach an agreement on phase three” of a coronavirus stimulus package.
On the Senate floor Wednesday morning, McConnell encouraged senators to “vote and exit the chamber” during the full 30-minute roll call vote. “Be aware of the social distancing,” he said. “I think we’ll be able to get through the vote later today without violating any of the safety precautions.”
McConnell stated that he has created three task forces among Senate Republicans to come up with the next bill.
The Hill reported Wednesday, however, that negotiations over a third bill have hit a snag.
“Republicans disagree over fundamental questions such as whether to make direct payments to Americans who miss paychecks because of the crisis or to all adults in a bid to boost the economy more generally,” The Hill reported.
Republicans are “also split on whether economic aid should be delivered primarily through unemployment benefits for workers who miss time or lose their jobs or whether economic aid should go directly to businesses in the form of loans or payroll tax reductions,” The Hill reported.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated during a Tuesday media briefing that while President Donald Trump “likes the idea of payroll tax holiday … we’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately. Americans need cash now, in the next two weeks.”
How much? “I’ll be previewing that with Republicans. There are some numbers out there; they may be a little bit bigger than what’s in the press,” Mnuchin said.