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US House of Representatives passes Trump-backed coronavirus relief package

The House passed an economic relief plan backed by President Donald Trump to deal with the spreading coronavirus as part of what lead negotiator Speaker Nancy Pelosi said will be a continuing effort to help the American people.

The 363-40 vote early Saturday sends the measure to the Senate, which plans to skip next week’s planned recess to take up the bill. The House is not planning to be in session next week.

“I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday after two days of intense negotiations between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The president added, “Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!“

The House package includes free testing for everyone who needs it, and two weeks of paid sick leave to allow people with the virus to stay home from work and avoid infecting co-workers. It also includes enhanced jobless benefits, increased food aid for children, senior citizens and food banks, and higher funding for Medicaid benefits.

The growing outbreak is beginning to squeeze the U.S. economy as schools and sports leagues shut down and businesses scale back or require employees to work from home.

Earlier Friday, Trump declared a national emergency that would free up as much as $50 billion to help states and cities respond to the health crisis, waive student-loan interest, purchase large quantities of oil and confer new authority on his health secretary to bypass hospital regulations.

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