Lawmakers struggle to agree on how to help Americans during coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus crisis, which he says will free up $50 billion in direct relief to states. The White House and Congress want to do even more for Americans but, after back-and-forth talks, have yet to come to an agreement.

“We were hoping to get a bill yesterday, then last night, then this morning,” Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) said.

Negotiations in Congress over how to combat the side effects of the coronavirus pandemic have become just as dynamic as the virus itself.

But Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne got more information from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday afternoon.

“To put families first. Today we are passing a bill that does just that,” she said.

Unable to reach an agreement with Republicans, Pelosi pushed forward the House Democrats’ legislation. She says it incorporates nearly everything the Trump Administration and Republicans are asking for.

“The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing, testing,” she said.

The legislation provides free coronavirus testing for anyone who shows symptoms, including the uninsured. It also secures two weeks of paid sick leave which, so far, is a sticking point for Republicans.

“One of the big problems here is – are we going to make it permanent or temporary, and how are we going to pay for it?” Rep. Byrne said.

The Democrats’ bill also strengthens unemployment insurance for those who have temporarily lost their jobs and food aid for kids, seniors and foodbanks.

The Senate doesn’t plan to touch the legislation until next week but Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) is ready to get something to President Trump as soon as possible.

“Whatever we need to keep families and communities safe,” he said.

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