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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said that while the bill has "imperfections," it was "time for urgent, bipartisan action."

Trump says he's a 'wartime president' against coronavirus crisis

March 18, 2020


WASHINGTON — The Senate voted to approve a second coronavirus aid billWednesday, paving the way for lawmakers to turn their attention to a third proposal that could include direct paymentsto Americans.

The legislation, dubbed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed on a 90-8 vote in the Senate, and President Donald Trump signed it into law Wednesday evening.

The measure provides free coronavirus testing and ensures paid emergency leave for those who are infected or caring for a family member with the illness. The bill also provides additional Medicaid funding, food assistance and unemployment benefits.

Senate votes to pass coronavirus relief bill

March 18, 202002:13

"We will continue to work on the next bill to respond to the crisis, and I want to repeat again that the Senate is going to stay in session until we finish Phase 3," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the floor after the legislation passed. "I would recommend senators stay around, close. Just how long it will take to get through these steps is unclear, but as everyone knows, we are moving rapidly because the situation demands it."

The House passed the sweeping bill with a bipartisan vote in the wee hours Saturday morning, but progress was stalled after Democrats and the Trump administration disagreed over how expansive paid leave should be.

The Trump administration voiced concerns that paid leave could overburden small businesses, and lawmakers made changes to limit who would be eligible; those changes passed the House on Monday evening.

After the Senate passed the bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House and the Senate "are already hard at work on the third bill in the House's Families First agenda, which will take bold, historic action on behalf of America's workers and families."

"This bill will be crafted in consultation with the public health, labor, nonprofit and business communities, so that we can deliver the most effective, evidence-based response," she said.

The aid package sent to Trump on Wednesday is the second emergency bill that Congress has passed in recent weeks. Last week, the Senate approved an $8.3 billionHouse-passed measure that focused on vaccine research and development.

With passage of the second emergency bill Wednesday, Senate Republicans are turning their attention to what they are calling the third phaseof the coronavirus response: a $1 trillion spending proposal from the White House that would include $500 billionin direct payments to Americans.

Republican senators met Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Capitol Hill to discuss the third measure.