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U.S. House passes coronavirus economic aid package

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 14, 2020 - Duration: 02:26s

U.S. House passes coronavirus economic aid package

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a coronavirus economic aid package Saturday that would provide free testing and paid sick leave in an attempt to limit the financial damage caused by the pandemic.

Conway G.

Gittens reports.

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U.S. House passes coronavirus economic aid package

"On this vote, the yeas are 363, the nays are 40, one recorded as present, with two-thirds being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended.

The bill is passed." It took working past midnight, but the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday overwhelmingly passed a multi-billion dollar coronavirus aid package with strong bi-partisan support.

The financial assistance package was the result of extensive negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

House Republicans signed on after getting the green light from President Trump.

A pleased Pelosi praised the House vote.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "So here we are, we did what we said we would do - put families first with paid sick leave, paid sick days, our family medical leave, unemployment insurance.

For the children: over 20 million children get their meals at school.

They have food insecurity and this bill addresses that, as well as for our seniors and others who depend on that - and then filling food banks as well.

And then other issues that relate to three things: testing and testing and testing." To be more precise - the House measure provides for free coronavirus testing.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "People that are getting tested are getting this free.

They don't have to pay because a lot of people say 'gee, that's a lot of money,' and it is.

It is a pretty complex test actually and it costs money and it's being provided free so people don't have to worry about that." In addition, two weeks of paid sick and family leave for those affected by the virus.

Businesses get a tax credit to cover that lost-labor expense.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN, SAYING: "Obviously, people who need to be quarantined and people who have the virus we want them at home and we want them to continue to get paid.

We don't want to be in a situation where they fear not getting paid during this two-week period of time." Workers can also take up to three months of unpaid leave if they are quarantined or need to take care of sick family members.

President Trump - who declared a national emergency before the vote, freeing up $50 billion in federal aid - wanted a $1 trillion payroll tax cut.

But that was left out.

Sometime next week the Republican-controlled Senate is likely to approve the coronavirus economic aid package.

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