The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on an emergency aid package related to the growing coronavirus outbreak, with a focus on relief for employees and protections for children in school. The package, as it stands, includes paid sick leave, aid for nutrition, and unemployment assistance, but some Republicans have indicated they don't support the bill.
After passing an $8.3 billion aid package, Democrats this week proposed a plan late Wednesday night to expand financial safety nets, as Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass. 5th District) described it. The plan would also make coronavirus testing free and more widely available in an attempt to stall the spread of the illness by covering those who can't afford to seek out healthcare.
Some GOP leaders have indicated they do not support a paid leave portion of the plan and changes to Medicaid to help cover the costs of the uninsured. Also, the proposal currently does not include the White House's own economic relief plans, but it will likely continue to evolve after Republicans made their objections known.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told his fellow Republicans that the party will oppose the bill as it currently stands, though he also said the legislature should stay in session until a deal is finalized. Congress is scheduled to begin a weeklong recess.
For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's part, he called the Democratic plan an "ideological wish list."
"If the Republicans are serious about their oath of office and protecting the American people, they will join with us," Rep. Clark told Cheddar on Thursday morning. "I am very discouraged at the rhetoric from some of the leaders on the Republican side of the aisle calling this package partisan."
With the virus confirmed in 44 states as of Thursday according to CDC Director Robert Redfield, Clark argued Congress needs to act quickly to protect citizens and provide relief as the U.S. grapples with the accelerating outbreak and moves from a strategy of containment to one of mitigation.
"We don't get to choose the President's actions, but we can choose in the House our response," she said. "Today, we are taking the next necessary step of making sure that Americans can make the choice to stay home and be safe and protect their families without throwing their economic lives into peril, and that's what we're putting together today with this package."