Mar 13, 2020
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Pelosi announces deal with White House on coronavirus bill


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that Democrats have reached a deal with the White House on a coronavirus bill, but Fox News has learned key Republicans still may not be supportive of the legislation.Pelosi informed colleagues of a deal with the Trump administration at around 6 p.m. ET. “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,” the California Democrat said in an evening letter to colleagues.However, Fox News later learned that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – who has been negotiating with Pelosi — has not yet signed off on the pact and House Republicans also aren’t completely on board.TRUMP DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY OVER CORONAVIRUS, ENLISTS PRIVATE SECTORThe apparent problems caught Democrats by surprise: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Friday “we thought we had an agreement,” adding: “I want to vote tonight.”Fox News is told the major objection to the bill from House Republicans have been extraneous matters House Democrats kept trying to include in the coronavirus package.A deal would set up a possible evening vote: House lawmakers have been advised to stay close as the leaders try to cement a deal that can be voted on later Friday night. The Senate, however, already left town. Sources said if the measure passes the House with an overwhelming majority, the Senate will take up this measure next week.Earlier Friday, President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and announced partnerships with major U.S. companies to expand testing capabilities.“This legislation is about testing, testing, testing,” Pelosi said. “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.”According to Pelosi, the bill includes paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. “We have also secured enhanced unemployment insurance, a step that will extend protections to furloughed workers,” she said.Pelosi also said the bill will include nutrition security initiatives “including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks.” The Democrat said “22 million children rely on free or reduced-price school meals for their food security; we must ensure that they have food to eat.”She also said the bill will include increased federal funds for Medicaid to support local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems “so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPStill, despite Pelosi’s comments, it remained unclear how much Republican support the legislation would garner without Trump’s explicit backing.The revisions to the Democratic bill happened after the GOP flagged “major” concerns about the sick leave legislation on Thursday. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., 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.He also objected to forcing permanent paid sick leave “for all businesses without exemptions and no sunsets,” McCarthy said.Trump remains the big wildcard. House Republicans are waiting to see if Trump supports the coronavirus package before committing to it. McCarthy went to the White House Friday as negotiations continue.Trump has been pressing for a payroll tax holiday to give some economic relief to Americans, but Pelosi has not included that in this bill, though she’s signaled more legislation could be needed as the scope and hurt of the pandemic is fully realized.Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.
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