With WH Support, Pressure’s On McConnell To Pass Pelosi’s COVID-19 Package

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is followed by members of the media on her way back to her office after a briefing at the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. ... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is followed by members of the media on her way back to her office after a briefing at the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi held a briefing on the Coronavirus Aid Package Bill that will deal with the outbreak of COVID-19. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
March 14, 2020 11:45 a.m.
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With President Donald Trump expressing his support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) coronavirus economic response package, the pressure is on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to quickly get the legislation to Trump’s desk.

The legislation passed just before 1 a.m. Saturday morning with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Senator McConnell and Republicans should pass this legislation as is immediately so it can get to the president’s desk to he can sign it right away,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement Friday night, calling the legislation “necessary but not sufficient.

That echoed similar sentiments from Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and others.

“We’ll be working with members of the Senate to unpack the bill for them and why President Trump endorsed it yesterday,” Vice President Mike Pence said at a press briefing Saturday. “We believe they should move it expeditiously to passage.”

In a statement released just after the House vote, around 1 a.m. Saturday, McConnell encouraged senators to “carefully review” the House bill but telegraphed support for some form of economic assistance related to the pandemic.

“Of course, Senators will need to carefully review the version just passed by the House,” he said. “But I believe the vast majority of Senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses.”

The fate of Pelosi’s legislative package was uncertain Friday. McConnell, who’d previously maintained that Senate would be on recess in the coming week, announced midday Thursday that it would instead be in session. But the President — as late as his Rose Garden press conference around 4 p.m. — waffled on whether he would support the legislation. The House speaker negotiated extensively with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the package, according to Pelosi’s office.

After Pelosi secured a commitment from the White House, things moved ahead with minimal Republican resistance. Ultimately, 40 members of Congress voted against the package, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. All “no” votes were Republican, and the bill passed with 363 votes in favor.

“Tonight’s deal is proof that if Republicans and Democrats work together, we can get things done for America,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said of the package.

The package includes additional food assistance funding, additional Medicaid funding, funds for diagnostic testing and services for the uninsured, funding for unemployment insurance, and paid leave provisions for some workers.

At his press conference Friday, Trump was noncommittal on the package, saying that Democrats weren’t “giving enough.”

But in tweets Friday night and Saturday morning, the President threw his weight behind the legislative package.

“Tonight’s legislation presents a strong stimulus to our economy to protect the health and financial security of America’s working families as we fight the coronavirus crisis,” Pelosi told fellow Democrats in a letter Friday night.

This post has been updated.

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