The Coronavirus outbreak has been raging in the U.S. for weeks on end, with cases growing at an increasingly dramatic rate as the days and weeks have passed. Yet, the Republican-controlled Senate has still yet to pass the latest Coronavirus relief funding package, which the Democrat-led House approved late last week. The package includes provisions like free Coronavirus testing, which can be crucial to stemming the spread of the disease, because its undetected spread can be slowed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a public statement this week pointing out this important need and putting foot-dragging GOP Senators in the spotlight.
In reference to the relief funding, she shared:
‘The #FamiliesFirst bill was about many things but first and foremost: testing testing testing. I urge Senators to pass this legislation today, to make free testing and the masks needed to provide it available ASAP. Any delay is a delay in testing.’
The #FamiliesFirst bill was about many things but first and foremost: testing testing testing. I urge Senators to pass this legislation today, to make free testing and the masks needed to provide it available ASAP. Any delay is a delay in testing.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 17, 2020
She posted that message on Tuesday, but the Senate adjourned that day without actually approving the bill, kicking the implementation of the benefits down the road for at least another day. The delay was because of an amendment proposed by far-right Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is insisting on a slew of personal agenda items, including the requirement of a Social Security number for the child tax credit, the provision to the president of “the authority to transfer funds as necessary,” and even the complete cessation of all military operations in Afghanistan. His so-called (by NBC) “doomed” amendment was slated for a vote on Wednesday.
NEW: The Senate is NOT expected to vote on the House-passed Coronavirus Relief package tonight, two sources tell NBC.
— Julie Tsirkin (@JulieNBCNews) March 17, 2020
Besides the provisions for free testing that Paul is holding up, the House’s currently on-deck Coronavirus relief plan would also “secure paid emergency leave, enhance unemployment insurance, strengthen food security initiatives and increase federal Medicaid funding to states,” NBC explains. It’s a rapid intensification of government efforts to address the outbreak following weeks of Trump dismissing the situation. He didn’t even declare a national emergency until just recently, in part because of reported concern about the effect on public image of his administration. That declaration frees up crucial resources to combat the virus.
Check out Twitter’s response to Pelosi…