Democrats and White House Reach Agreement on Coronavirus Bill

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Democrats have reached agreement with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on an emergency coronavirus bill, but it’s not entirely clear exactly what’s in it. The Washington Post seems to have the most complete story at the moment:

The White House and House Democrats reached agreement Friday on a coronavirus relief package to spend tens of billions of dollars on sick leave, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other measures to address the unfolding crisis.

….The initial proposals underwent significant changes over the hours of talks, and toward the end negotiators were haggling over a less ambitious proposal for family and medical leave from Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) that would expand the number of workers who can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act while drawing down wage replacement. Employees would get two-thirds of their salary replaced up to $4,000 a month, and [employers] would be reimbursed by the federal government. Separately, employees would also be able to take 14 days of paid sick leave, with the government reimbursing employers for part of the cost.

Another controversial provision in the original bill would have increased the percentage of Medicaid spending borne by the federal government by eight percentage points through Sept. 30, 2021. That would be a welcome relief to states, which could see an influx of Medicaid enrollees in a time of economic crisis. But the price tag for the federal government could have been vast — stretching easily into the tens of billions of dollars.

I assume that Medicaid spending was increased in the final bill, but that’s not clear. Stay tuned for more details later.

UPDATE: The LA Times adds this:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin reached a deal Friday on an economic stimulus package to address the coronavirus, providing paid sick leave for workers and pumping billions of dollars to states for food programs and unemployment benefits….It would also dramatically expand access to free coronavirus testing. Insurance companies would be required to cover it without a copay for consumers and a federal national disaster program would reimburse the cost for people without insurance.

Trump’s proposal for a payroll tax holiday was not included in the bill. The Democratic proposal for a permanent paid sick leave requirement was also not included.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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