Senate to vote Wednesday on coronavirus relief bill

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WASHINGTON-- The Senate will vote on Wednesday on House-passed coronavirus relief legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in remarks on the Senate floor.

"Later today, the Senate will vote" on the House legislation, McConnell said, calling it "a well-intentioned bipartisan product" and said that he will be voting for it. "I will vote to pass their bill," he said.

Once the Senate approves the measure, it will sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

The House legislation was negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration and includes provisions for paid emergency leave and free testing for COVID-19.

To aid in social distancing, McConnell said that he plans to take some precautions when the Senate votes Wednesday.

"What we'll do is have a 30-minute roll call vote. We want to avoid congregating here in the well," he said. "I would encourage our colleagues to come in and vote and depart the chamber so we don't have gaggles of conversation here on the floor. That's particularly important for our staff here and the front of the chamber, so I would encourage everyone to take full advantage of a full 30-minute roll call vote. Come in and vote, and leave."

He asked members to be aware of "social distancing" as they come over to the chamber and depart and said, "with that, I think we will be able to get through the voting that will occur in all likelihood later today without violating any of the safety precautions that have been recommended to us by the Capitol Physician and others."

McConnell and other Senate Republicans have been critical of the House-passed legislation, but have emphasized that it is urgent to get relief to the American people amid the coronavirus crisis. McConnell reiterated that he will not adjourn the Senate until it passes what lawmakers are describing as a "phase three" economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"So, while I will support the House bill in order to secure some emergency relief for some American workers, I will not adjourn the Senate until we have passed a far bolder package that must include significant relief for small businesses all across our country."

Trump's support for the House measure cleared the way for a broad, bipartisan vote in the House at the end of last week. The House later approved a set of changes to the legislation on Monday, clearing the path for the Senate to consider it, which scaled back their efforts to offer millions of Americans paid sick and family leave.

The revised legislation would still provide many workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are being tested or treated for coronavirus or have been diagnosed with it. Also eligible would be those who have been told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms.

Under the revised bill, however, those payments would be capped at $511 a day, roughly what someone making $133,000 earns annually. The original measure called for workers to receive their full pay but limited federal reimbursement to employers to that amount.

Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children's schools have closed would still receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit would now be limited to $200 a day.

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