House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Thursday said the body would vote on an aid package to counter the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak after reaching a deal with congressional Republicans and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who handled negotiations on behalf of the White House.
The package will guarantee free testing and 14 days of paid sick-leave for patients and tax credits for small- and medium-sized businesses affected by the outbreak. Additionally, the legislation will fund food assistance and Medicaid programs, as well as unemployment benefits.
Republicans initially were skeptical of the legislation due to provisions they feared would permanently increase paid leave entitlements, while Democrats did not want to include language explicitly prohibiting funding for abortions in the bill.
“We’ve resolved most of our differences, and [for] those we haven’t we’ll continue the conversation, because there will obviously be other bills,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.
Pelosi had been negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin over the contents of the legislation.
“It’s fair to say we’re close to an agreement, subject to the exchange of paper, and hope to have an agreement tomorrow,” Pelosi said. The House speaker wrote in a letter to lawmakers that the bill “that will take further effective action that protects the health, economic security and well-being of the American people.”
The speaker also wrote that the legislation would not be the last coronavirus aid package, saying Congress would “get to work on a third emergency response package that will take further effective action that protects the health, economic security and well-being of the American people.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Thursday announced the Senate would remain in session this coming week instead of taking a recess, in order to vote on coronavirus-related legislation.
“I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi,” McConnell wrote on Twitter. “I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong.”