Politics

Trump indicates he opposes House coronavirus plan as Pelosi vows to pass it

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Key Points
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will pass a coronavirus response bill Friday, while President Donald Trump indicates he opposes it. 
  • Pelosi is negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as she tries to approve a package to boost Americans damaged by the pandemic.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy indicates he opposes the plan, while it would need GOP support to get through the Senate.
  • The Senate is off until next week. 
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Coronavirus Response Act includes paid sick leave, free testing: Pelosi

President Donald Trump indicated he does not back the current form of a relief bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to pass Friday to combat the global coronavirus pandemic.

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, rise in the U.S. and the outbreak upends daily life and the U.S. economy, the California Democrat called for a "coordinated, science-based and whole of government response" to the crisis. She urged Congress to pass a "response that puts families first to stimulate the economy." 

"Today, we are passing a bill that does just that," she said during remarks in front of a row of American flags designed to stress the gravity of the moment. 

But the fate of her Democratic-backed plan was in limbo Friday afternoon as the president called it inadequate, reducing its chances for GOP support in Congress. Trump said, "we just don't think they're giving enough," contending Democrats are "not doing what's right for the country." He did not explicitly say what he wanted negotiators to change.

Pelosi carried out intense negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a potential agreement to provide economic relief to Americans affected by the crisis. They had their 12th call of the day just before 5 p.m. ET, after Trump's Rose Garden news conference wrapped up, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

On Thursday night, Pelosi said Democrats and the administration were close to a final deal. On Friday afternoon, a senior administration official told CNBC that "several pieces of the text, which go beyond provisions kept limited to address Covid-19, do not yet have sign off from us."

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White House: No comment on Pelosi bill

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Republicans on a conference call Friday afternoon that he does not yet back the plan, NBC News reported. Mnuchin also told GOP members that he could not yet recommend a vote in favor of the proposal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer earlier Friday signaled the House would vote on the bill Friday even if Republicans did not support it. Democrats have a majority in the chamber, but Republicans control the Senate. The upper chamber canceled its planned recess next week but left Washington for the weekend.

The legislation Democrats aim to pass Friday includes free coronavirus testing, including for uninsured people, Pelosi said.

"The three most important parts of this bill are: Testing. Testing. Testing," she said.

The California Democrat said the package would offer 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. Politico reported Thursday night that the plan would include a tax credit to help smaller businesses cover the costs of the time off. 

The legislation would also enhance unemployment insurance for furloughed workers, buttress food programs such as SNAP and student meals, and boost federal money for Medicaid, according to Pelosi.

The coronavirus has wreaked increasing havoc on the United States. , and at least 40 people have died from it, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

As the global pandemic spreads, lawmakers have increasingly worried about testing, care and economic security for patients who have to take off work. At the same time, health officials have advised against large gatherings, forcing the suspension of events from professional sports to Broadway shows and concerts — further jeopardizing the livelihoods of workers. 

Lawmakers already passed a first $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus funding package earlier this month. On Thursday night, Pelosi wrote to colleagues that the House will push to pass a third plan that "will take further effective action that protects the health, economic security and well-being of the American people."

Pelosi ended her Friday remarks by stressing that she thinks the U.S. working cooperatively can get through the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Our nation, our great nation has faced crises before," she said. "And every time, thanks to the courage and optimism, patriotism and perseverance of the American people, we have prevailed. Now, working together, we will once again prevail, and we will come out stronger than before."

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