The House of Representatives passed a bill to provide financial relief to Americans hamstrung by the novel coronavirus. It now heads to the Senate. President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he supported the deal reached between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. COVID-19, the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has increasingly shuttered businesses across the nation and encouraged consumers to stay home. The legislation sought to expand paid sick leave and other programs during the pandemic. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
In the early hours on Saturday morning, the House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide financial relief to Americans hamstrung by the novel coronavirus — which has increasingly shuttered businesses across the nation and encouraged consumers to stay home. The measure will now head to the Senate for a vote. If it passes, the president has said he will sign the bill into law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially announced that a deal had been reached between Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Friday evening. Shortly after, Trump tweeted that he supported the bill, saying he was looking "forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!" The Families First Coronavirus Response Act seeks to expand paid sick leave and other programs during the pandemic. Washington has dramatically escalated its response this week to the respiratory illness COVID-19, which has sickened more than 1,200 throughout the US. The bill includes free coronavirus testing, paid leave (including sick leave) protections for frontline workers, enhanced unemployment insurance, food security measures, and increased Medicaid funding. "The coronavirus crisis presents a grave and accelerating threat to public health and to the economic security and well-being of the American people," Pelosi said in a statement. "As members of Congress, we have a solemn and urgent responsibility to take strong, serious action to confront and control this crisis and to put Families First and stimulate the economy." The legislation was meant to build on an $8 billion coronavirus response package, which was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support within a matter of days last week. It called to expand unemployment insurance and support for small businesses, potentially through loans and tax deferrals. But Republican leaders initially objected to certain aspects of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was proposed by Democrats a day earlier, prompting two days of behind-the-scenes negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin. Read more: Goldman Sachs studied every bear market in stocks since 1835 — and concluded that 3 red flags make this coronavirus-driven one unlike any other in history Key issues included how a paid sick leave mandate would be carried out, with Republicans arguing that the Social Security Administration would take six months to send out checks. Some also pushed for amendments that would set an end date for the legislation and offer certain businesses exemptions. As concerns about the economy rose rapidly without signs of progress on the bill Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the upper chamber would no longer take a recess that had been scheduled for next week. "I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong," McConnell said. On Wednesday evening, Trump announced the Treasury Department would defer tax payments for certain people and businesses in a move that he said would add $200 billion of liquidity to the economy. But other proposals from the White House have fallen flat on Capitol Hill, such as a payroll-tax cut that critics said would be ineffective and expensive. Policy responses from Washington have done little to ease fears about growth in the largest economy, which a growing number of experts have forecast could contract this year. Wall Street suffered its worst day since the 1987 stock-market crash on Thursday, even as the Federal Reserve stepped in with $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks.SEE ALSO: Republicans oppose coronavirus bill that would provide paid sick leave and free testing for the illness Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption
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Senate approves the stimulus package created in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump says he will...Senate approves the stimulus package created in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump says he will sign it.
The deal spurred by the coronavirus outbreak includes direct payments to many Americans, and aid for...The deal spurred by the coronavirus outbreak includes direct payments to many Americans, and aid for both large corporations and small businesses.
Many US companies do not offer paid sick leave, which can put a financial burden on...Many US companies do not offer paid sick leave, which can put a financial burden on employees when they are sick. Congress passed a new bill that could temporarily change that for employees and families affected by the coronavirus. Business Insider spoke with an employment lawyer on how this bill will affect small businesses and employees. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Trump signed a bill into law that gives workers affected by the new coronavirus additional resources and guaranteed paid leave. The US House of Representatives initially passed the HR 6201 bill, or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, on March 14 to establish a package of emergency paid leave and benefits for families. The bill guarantees free coronavirus testing and covers the cost of emergency-room visits and doctor fees. It also supplements food assistance, paid sick leave, and unemployment insurance, among other provisions. Paid sick leave could help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported. But 25% of American workers — or 32 million people — don't have access to paid sick leave from their employers. Business Insider spoke with David Barron, a labor and employment lawyer, on how this bill will affect small businesses and employers. Many US companies do not offer paid sick leave, which can put a financial burden on employees when they are sick. "That's the problem they're trying to solve by creating a new federal entitlement to pay in certain situations," Barron said. According to Business Insider's Kate Taylor, McDonald's lobbied the Trump administration and Congress to alter the bill. The fast-food giant said plans to use a tax credit to cover the cost would fail to protect franchisees. Here's everything you need to know about the bill and how it could affect your business and employees. The bill will apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees If you're a small or midsize business with fewer than 500 employees, your business is covered by the bill. If your company already gives two or more weeks of paid sick leave, the bill may not change much. But if your company does not provide the two weeks, your company will be required to give employees job-protected paid leave. Under the legislation, employers initially pay for the sick leave but are fully reimbursed by the federal government within three months through refundable tax credits that count against employers' payroll tax. According to the bill, companies with fewer than 50 employees will be allowed to opt out of the provisions if they would jeopardize business viability. Employees will be paid for time off related to the coronavirus If your business falls within the above requirements, an employee may claim paid leave for any of the following reasons related to the coronavirus public-health emergency: They have been exposed to the coronavirus or exhibit symptoms of it. They are recommended to quarantine by a healthcare provider and cannot work from home. They need to care for a family member who has been exposed to or exhibits symptoms of the coronavirus. They need to care for a child younger than 18 years old because their school or day care is closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable. Barron said the bill entitles employees to 10 weeks of paid leave. "That could include not only them being sick, but caring for a family member who's sick or having to stay home because your child is out of school because of corona shutdowns," he said. House Democrats added a provision to the bill earlier this week that says any extension beyond 10 weeks would be granted only to parents taking care of children with shuttered schools and day-care centers. The bill says the first 14 days of leave may be unpaid, then employees will be paid based on their normally scheduled hours and can be paid no less than two-thirds of their regular pay rate. The provisions are temporary and will remain in effect through the end of the year Now that the bill has been signed into law, it will go into effect within 15 days and remain in effect through the end of the calendar year. Barron said the bill could change the way employees show up to work and that employers should prepare for increased absenteeism, especially among parents who need to take care of their children while schools are closed. "There's going to be millions of people who could potentially take advantage of that, including healthcare workers," he said. It's important to note that employers cannot discourage or prevent eligible employees from claiming paid sick leave. If they do, it could be considered discriminatory or an obstruction of their legal rights. But the best way to keep healthy employees working is to offer incentives and benefits apart from the federal government — which some companies are doing. A representative from the pizza chain &pizza told Business Insider it expanded the company's sick-leave policy, increased hourly pay by $1 for all shop staff, offered $5 Lyft rides, and provided unlimited pizza to employees and their immediate families. This post will be updated as additional details develop.SEE ALSO: Paid sick leave could help prevent the spread of coronavirus — but 18 states bar local governments from enacting it MUST READ: 4 tips to make a team's sudden switch to remote work successful if coronavirus panic is shutting your office and forcing everyone to stay home Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Head of NYC Prepper's Network explains how to prepare for a self-quarantine