Tuesday, March 17, 2020
ALERT: Coronavirus and Recent Activities on Capitol Hill
By Brian Farrington
With the unprecedented impacts related to the Coronavirus in the U.S. and globally, Cowles and Thompson wants to share important news and decisions from Washington.
UPDATE 3/17/20: Dow jumps on possible $1 trillion stimulus
On Saturday, March 14th, the U.S. House passed a bi-partisan bill aimed at providing relief related to insurance, healthcare, benefits and leave, and nutrition for low-income workers and seniors. It has already received support from the President and will be taken up by the Senate this week.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act covers a variety of initiatives:
- Insurance coverage
- Reimbursement of diagnostic testing costs
- Provisions for those adversely impacted by the economic results
- Food & Nutrition service
- Tax credits
- Senior nutrition program
- SNAP Flexibility for low-income jobless workers
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansions Act
- Emergency Unemployment Insurance
Family Medial Leave Act (FMLA) Expansion
This expanded version of FMLA pertains to employees who a) work for employers who have 500 or fewer employees, and b) have been employed for a minimum of 30 days. Those who qualify will have the right to take up to 12 weeks of protected leave in order to:
- Comply with quarantine requirements based on symptoms of or exposure to the Coronavirus/COVID-19;
- Care for a family member in quarantine for illness or exposure;
- Care for children where the school, daycare/care center, or childcare provider becomes unavailable.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
This section requires employers with fewer than 500 employees - and government employers - to provide employees with two weeks of paid sick leave paid at the employee's regular rate - for quarantine, diagnosis, or preventative care against Coronavirus. The rate changes to two-thirds of the employee's regular rate for care of a family member or for a child whose school, care center, or care provider is unavailable because of Coronavirus.
Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act
This section of the Act will provide states with $1 billion in 2020 for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits - under certain conditions.
Click here to see the full summary of the Act and its provisions.
The Senate's Turn
The Senate is expected to act soon in review and support of the Families First act. Both the House and Senate have emphasized efforts to broaden stimulus measures to aid those suffering financially. The President has sought a stimulus package of up to $850 billion, while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposes a $750 billion option.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised the Senate will remain in town until the vote is passed.
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