The following Statement on Congressman DeSaulnier Missing Families First Vote was issued Monday morning, March 16, 2020:
Washington, DC – “On Friday night, Congressman DeSaulnier was admitted to a local hospital to treat complications of pneumonia from a traumatic rib fracture that occurred after falling during a run. He is in serious, but stable condition and will likely be in the hospital for at least the next several days. The office operations remain unchanged and staff will continue to serve our constituents. We are grateful for your thoughts and well wishes during this time. We will provide additional updates as they come,” said Betsy Arnold Marr, Chief of Staff for Congressman DeSaulnier.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, was passed early Saturday morning, March 14 by the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 363-40 with one Member voting Present. According to the bill summary, it provides “paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.
Specifically, the bill provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nutrition and food assistance programs, including
- the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
- the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); and
- nutrition assistance grants for U.S. territories.
The bill also provides FY2020 appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for nutrition programs that assist the elderly.
The supplemental appropriations provided by the bill are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.
The bill modifies USDA food assistance and nutrition programs to
- allow certain waivers to requirements for the school meal programs,
- suspend the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program), and
- allow states to request waivers to provide certain emergency SNAP benefits.
In addition, the bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers.
The bill also includes provisions that
- establish a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak,
- expand unemployment benefits and provide grants to states for processing and paying claims,
- require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees,
- establish requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers,
- treat personal respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures that are eligible for certain liability protections, and
- temporarily increase the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).
The bill is now with the Senate for their vote. If it passes, it will then move on to the president for him to sign into law. This is in addition to H.R. 6074, the $8.3 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on Friday, March 6.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.