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House Democrats are set to pass a bill aimed at helping Americans whose jobs may be affected by the economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The bill would ensure free coronavirus testing for all Americans and put in place an emergency family and medical leave program, and it would increase federal spending for Medicaid. In addition, the bill provides $2 billion to help states cover unemployment benefits, and another $1 billion boost to nutritional programs. The Associated Press has a fairly thorough summary of what the bill includes. Or you can read the bill itself -- it's just 8 pages.

Republicans hate it, because it would mostly help people who are in dire financial straits instead of bailing out corporations that donate to Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted the bill wasn't even about helping those affected by the disease outbreak, but was instead an

"ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances."

"Instead of focusing on immediate relief to affected individuals, families and businesses, the House Democrats chose to wander into various areas of policy that are barely related if at all to the issue before us," he said.

Translation: Not enough money for the poor oil companies and airlines who are suffering so badly.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had similarly specific objections to the bill that Democrats introduced late last night, saying it "comes up short" and includes "glaring problems" such as things he just didn't like and that are bad, very bad. McCarthy said instead of passing the bill and sending it on to the Senate, the House should stay in session instead of taking a week's recess that had been scheduled to start tomorrow.

What needs fixin', exactly? McCarthy explained in detail:

"I think we stay here, we get it right," McCarthy told reporters. "I think we can get this done in the next 48 hours."

On Twitter, McCarthy offered other very substantial critiques of the bill:

Why is it unworkable? If McCarthy actually said, we haven't seen it! He posted a video snippet of his press conference that was every bit as clear: Somehow, Pelosi's bill is "playing politics," which Republicans really don't like, and it needs to be made "right."

If you spot anything specific at all here, please report it to your local Substance Lost and Found.

Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise brought his rhetorical A-game, too, explaining precisely why the government paying for low-income people to take time off work if they're sick is utterly unrelated to the disease outbreak:

Again, we're not entirely sure what he's getting at with the that "nothing to do w/ coronavirus" stuff. The bill guarantees insurers will cover testing, and for people without insurance, it would pay for the tests. It also increases the federal share of Medicaid funding by eight percent to handle likely increased case loads.

The sick leave is, we suppose, crazy liberal pie in the sky stuff because it's never been done. It would have two parts: A temporary sick leave program, run through the Social Security Administration, that would pay two thirds of people's income if they're unable to work or are caring for a sick family member. That would end in January 2021.

Oh, but here's the wild, "unrelated" bit, as the AP explains:

It also creates a federally mandated sick leave benefit for private businesses that would require all employers to allow their workers to accrue seven days of paid sick leave, with an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of public health emergencies such as the current coronavirus crisis.

OMG, it's socialism and will destroy the economy because no employer can possibly cover all that sick leave.

The Washington Post's Jeffrey Stein was able to at least get a "White House official" to say what the Trump administration objects to:, which would be the eight percent increase to federal matching funds for Medicaid and the full coverage under Medicaid for testing of folks without insurance.

NBC News reports the White House also thinks Nancy Pelosi is trying to sneak federal funding of abortions into the bill, not that we can see how. The administration

believes provisions in the Pelosi bill that pertain to the Violence Against Women Act could open the door to federal funds for abortion. In response, the White House wants to add Hyde Amendment language to the bill — restricting the use of federal funds for abortion. Speaker Pelosi has long been an opponent of the amendment.

So yes, that's what they're going to fight over, so sick people will have to keep working.

At a presser this morning, Pelosi said she intended to pass the bill in the House anyway. So good for her. What the Senate does to it will probably get ugly and stupid.

Even so, McConnell tweeted today that he'll keep the Senate in session -- after being shamed into it -- and that he's "glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi." So who knows, maybe we'll get a coronavirus relief bill this year. After all, people are hurting, and this time they aren't conveniently in Puerto Rico.

[WaPo / Politico/ AP via ABC News / H.R. 6201]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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