WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Congress is working to pass a second relief package to help everyday Americans weather the financial pain that’s coming along with the coronavirus.
Republicans and Democrats went back and forth all day Thursday, negotiating details. Lawmakers who spoke to Nexstar said they were trying to put party politics aside to ensure vulnerable Americans get the help they need.
“We’re calling it the Family First Act,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said. “We’ve got to make sure, first and foremost, we are taking care of our families.”
Bustos said the House’s plan will help workers and small businesses affected by the virus and cover the cost of testing.
“No matter what your background is, you can get tested under this bill. We will cover those costs,” she said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., noted that the cost is only one of the challenges in stopping the spread of the virus.
“There’s just not enough tests available in Illinois for these categories of people, so I’m very concerned,” he said.
Durbin is part of a group of lawmakers calling on the administration to deploy more than $40 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency emergency funds to help states combat the virus. A FEMA spokesperson said it is not currently preparing a response.
President Donald Trump said he supports some of the proposals from the Democrat-led House, but also wants lawmakers to help Wall Street by suspending the payroll tax.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said his priorities are out of whack.
“The president’s talking about the stock market,” she said. “I’m talking about people in the supermarket.”
Senate Republicans like Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Iowa Republicans, say they’re moving cautiously.
“There are a lot of concerns that need be taken into consideration,” Ernst said.
“There isn’t an understanding yet of the exact impact of this on the economy,” Grassley said. “Maybe a week from now or two weeks from now, we would come to the conclusion that a lot needs to be done.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Senate canceled a scheduled recess to keep working on a deal next week.