US House approves coronavirus relief bill

Bill passed on bipartisan basis with endorsement from Trump administration

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces coronavirus aid package deal made with Trump administration

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces coronavirus aid package deal made with Trump administration (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act with a vote of 363-40 on Saturday (March 14) after intense negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration.

The bipartisan passage of the bill followed an expression of support by President Trump. On Saturday he contended that the bill would be in line with his wish for free coronavirus tests and paid sick leave while urging House Republicans and Democrats to work together so he could sign it into law as soon as possible.

Aiming to safeguard public health, the bill also includes measures to counter the economic fallout of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). It will require both federal health providers and private insurers to provide free testing for the virus, and government and private sector employees may take up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave, including two weeks of full pay, CBS News reported.

Food security programs will also receive additional funding to support families, especially those with children who depend on schools for meals, while many remain home due to the outbreak. In addition, the bill will waive employment requirements for Medicaid — public health insurance for low-income Americans — and increase its funding through 2021.

To meet the public's expectation that the government react promptly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a statement on Saturday with an assurance that the upper chamber will prioritize reviewing the bill and act swiftly to relieve the crisis facing the whole country.