March 13 (UPI) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said House Democrats came to an agreement with President Donald Trump on a multi-billion dollar bill to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today, the House is taking the next step to put families first,” she said in a statement. “We are proud to have reached an agreement with the administration to resolve outstanding challenges, and now will soon pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”
Trump, who earlier Friday said he wasn’t happy with the bill as it stood, didn’t immediately respond to Pelosi’s statement. Pelosi said the House plans to vote on the bill Friday.
The speaker said the legislation focuses on COVID-19 testing as the means of halting the spread of the disease throughout the country.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were at least 1,600 cases and 41 deaths in the United States as of Thursday afternoon.
The act would provide free coronavirus testing for anyone who needs it, regardless of whether the person has health insurance. It also includes clear protections for frontline workers, increased federal funds for Medicaid and strengthened food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals and seniors nutrition and food banks.
Specifically, the bill includes more than $1 billion for food assistance with $500 million allocated to provide food to low-income pregnant women and mothers of young children who lose their jobs due to COVID-19, $400 million for local food banks and $250 million for the senior nutrition program. It also calls for the Department of Agriculture to approve plans to provide SNAP assistance to children who receive free or discounted meals so they can continue to have food while their schools are closed.
The bill also includes requirements that all employees receive 14 days of paid sick leave.
Pelosi’s announcement comes hours after Trump declared a national emergency, freeing up to $50 billion for states to battle the disease and improve testing.