House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an agreement with the Trump administration on legislation to provide financial relief to families and workers hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, seemingly putting an end to a day of uncertain negotiations.
“We are proud to have reached an agreement with the administration to resolve outstanding challenges, and now will soon pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues.
Although President Trump told reporters earlier Friday that he wasn’t happy with the Democrats’ bill and that he didn’t think either side was giving enough, he tweeted Friday night that he urged Democrats and Republicans “to come together and vote YES!” He wrote that he was looking forward “to signing the final bill ASAP.”
In a letter to colleagues, Pelosi noted that while Democrats could have passed the bill in the House without Republican help, she believed it was “important for us to assure the American people that we can work together to manage this crisis.”
The legislation secures paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave, according to Pelosi. It also enhances unemployment insurance. The legislation also increases federal funds for Medicaid, and bolsters funding for food assistance programs.
Pelosi delivered a statement Friday afternoon touting a legislative package to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The American people expect and deserve a coordinated, science-based and whole of government response,” Pelosi said, adding that the legislation is “focused directly on providing support for America’s families who must be our first priority.”
Pelosi emphasized the package’s provision to provide tests free of cost, saying: “The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing, testing.”
The speaker also called for unity in the government to address the crisis.
“Working together, we will once again prevail, and we will come out stronger than before,” Pelosi concluded.
Pelosi has been in nearly constant contact with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the planned recess for the Senate next week has been canceled to address the virus.
“I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi. I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong,” McConnell said in a tweet.
In a statement accompanying the announcement of the bill on Wednesday, Pelosi said that “we cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested knows they can get their test free of charge.”
“We cannot slow the coronavirus outbreak when workers are stuck with the terrible choice between staying home to avoid spreading illness and the paycheck their family can’t afford to lose,” Pelosi continued. The House had initially planned to vote on the bill Thursday morning, but lawmakers were still in talks with the Trump administration about legislation to address the virus’ economic impact.
Last week, President Trump signed an $8.3 billion bill to respond to the crisis.
Kimberly Brown contributed to this report.