Pelosi, White House Strike Deal on Coronavirus Relief Bill
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Pelosi, White House Strike Deal on Coronavirus Relief Bill

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday evening that the House Democrats has finally reached a deal with the Trump administration to pass a sweeping coronavirus multibillion-dollar stimulus package, shortly after President Trump declared a national emergency.

“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 wrote in a “dear colleague” letter Friday evening. “The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing, testing. To stop the spread of the virus, we have secured free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested can get their test free of charge.”

In a letter to House Democrats on Thursday evening, Pelosi wrote that “we are near to a bipartisan agreement,” and said that the legislation would include a number of provisions, including free coronavirus testing “for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured.”

The House is expected to vote and pass the legislation later Friday evening, with the Senate taking up to vote early as Monday.

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Pelosi has been engaged in intense negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this past week. Aides said they spoken 13 separate times over hours of intense negotiations on Friday as they attempted to close out the final major hurdle.

Early Friday morning, Pelosi praised the legislation in a televised address. 

“Put families first — today, we are passing a bill that does just that,” she said as she detailed the provisions of the legislation that includes free coronavirus testing, up to two weeks of paid sick and three months of family and medical leave, and nutrition security initiatives “including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks.” 

“Our nation, our great nation, has faced crises before,” she said. “And every time, thanks to the courage and optimism, patriotism and perseverance of the American people, we have prevailed. Now, working together, we will once again prevail, and we will come out stronger than before.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) criticized the initial legislation for creating a paid sick leave program through the Social Security Administration that he said would take six months to set up and hamper the agency’s normal functioning of disbursing checks to senior citizens.

Trump also criticized the legislative package during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden on Friday afternoon.

“Well, we just don’t think they’re giving enough. We don’t think the Democrats are giving enough,” Trump said. “We’re negotiating. We thought we had something, but all of a sudden they didn’t agree to certain things that they agreed to. We could have something but we don’t think they’re giving enough. They’re not doing what’s right for the country.”

House Republicans are waiting to see if Trump supports the coronavirus package before committing to it. 

Last week, Congress passed an $8.3 billion total coronavirus response package to address public health needs arising from the Coronavirus crisis. 

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Mona Salama