Senate passes stimulus package covering paid sick and emergency leave

iStock/Diy13(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Senators were hard at work hashing out a new stimulus package to help bolster the economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak and give relief to workers affected by shuttered businesses.

The bill, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, ensures paid sick leave for some workers and up to three months of paid emergency leave, will cost north of $100 billion.  Also included in the bill is free testing for COVID-19, a boost to unemployment insurance, health insurance relief for the poor and increases spending for food assistance.

The bill also includes assistance to affected businesses that have been shut down due to the pandemic, which would allow companies to be reimbursed via tax credits.  

The bill makes an exemption for businesses over 500 employees, who are not legally obligated to offer paid sick or family leave to their employees.  However, this exemption might be addressed in a future bill.

The second phase bill overwhelmingly passed with 90 senators in support and eight in opposition and has been signed by President Donald Trump.

However, the Senate is back to the drawing board and currently hashing out a “phase three” stimulus package and won’t be able to leave until it, too, rests on the president’s desk.

The Treasury Department is also working closely with the president on a $1 trillion economic stimulus proposal, which would be sent to Congress.  In this proposal, two rounds of $250 billion in payments would be funneled directly to individual taxpayers starting April 6.   A second check — identical to the first amount wise — would be disbursed May 18.

The Treasury Department added that taxpayers would receive a check based on their income level and whether or not they have dependents.  

Currently, COVID-19 has affected all 50 states and has infected over 9,345 individuals.  About 140 people have died due to the pandemic, as of Wednesday.

Globally, there are 214,800 cases and 8,730 deaths — resulting in worldwide travel restrictions, the closure of boarders and various lockdowns in countries or major cities.

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