‘Free tests for everyone’: Pelosi announces Democrats reach deal with White House on coronavirus relief
“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 (D-California) said in a letter to House Democrats, made public early on Friday evening.
“This legislation is about testing, testing, testing,” she wrote, saying it seeks to make coronavirus tests available for free to anyone who needs them, whether they have insurance or not.
News: Pelosi and Mnuchin have reached a deal. pic.twitter.com/IYQeK5JTor— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) March 13, 2020
The announcement comes just hours after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the outbreak, unlocking billions of dollars in federal funding for disaster response.
In a Rose Garden press conference on Friday afternoon, Trump opposed the reporters’ insistence on everyone getting tested, however.
“We don’t want people without symptoms to go and do that test,” the president said. “It’s totally unnecessary.”Also on rt.com Trump declares national emergency over coronavirus pandemic, unlocking $50bn in funding
According to Pelosi’s letter, which is still the only word on the matter, the deal she reached with Mnuchin overcomes “challenges” to set up two weeks of paid sick leave, as well as up to three months of paid family medical leave for Americans affected by the pandemic. The bill also expands food subsidies for the needy, and increases federal funding for Medicaid, a program to help the poor with healthcare expenses.
Republicans spoke out against the original bill, which the House approved on Thursday along partisan lines. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) called it an “ideological wish list” and proposed a series of smaller, less controversial bills instead – which the Senate Democrats shot down.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Friday morning there were 1,215 total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, of which 36 have been fatal – though the death toll has since been updated to 42.
The virus has been reported in 46 states and territories, with the states of Washington, New York and California hardest hit.
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