House Democrats introduce coronavirus bill, call for paid leave, free testing

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House Democrats unveiled legislation late Wednesday that calls for paid leave, free testing and provide funding to states that they say will help address economic hardships faced by Americans as the country grapples with the coronavirus.

TRUMP ADDRESSES NATION 

The 124-page bill will be considered in the House sometime Thursday. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the legislation would result in “billions” of dollars being dispensed by the federal government, Reuters reported.

Rep. Nita M. Lowery, D-N.Y., said in a statement that the new bill will build on the $8.3 billion supplemental that was passed earlier.

“House Democrats’ new legislation puts working families first by providing new resources and more protections as our country faces this public health crisis," she said in a statement.

President Trump late Wednesday laid out his plans to suspend all travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days beginning Friday at midnight in an effort to slow the virus’ spread. His address came hours after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 a global pandemic and the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. climbed to more than 1,200.

Sen. Chuck  Schumer, the Senate minority leader, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a joint statement following the address and said the best "way to help keep American people safe and ensure their economic security is for the president to focus on fighting the spread of the coronavirus itself. They said Trump failed to address the lack of coronavirus testing kits.

Democrats say the new legislation will expand on food assistance, protect frontline health workers and provide new funding for states.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal told Reuters that he has been in touch with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the situation. He said he is optimistic that “this vote tomorrow is going to be an act of confidence that ... we're acting on a national health emergency."

Reuters reported that it is unclear if the bill will pass the Republican-controlled Senate.