WASHINGTON DC (March 16, 2020) — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles "Chuck" Grassley issued the following comments on Congressional work responding to the novel coronavirus.
“This health crisis is causing economic disruption, and we in Congress are working to address that in every way we can. We’ve already passed a phase-one bill to surge funding and resources for government efforts to curtail the coronavirus. I’m confident that Congress will pass the phase-two relief package soon to bring further stability to families and the general economy as we continue to combat coronavirus.
“As Leader [Mitch] McConnell said yesterday, these steps are just the beginning of Congress’s work to address this pandemic. We are actively working on a phase-three economic stimulus package, which should include help for everyday Americans, as well as small businesses and major industries, so they can keep their doors open and workers on the job.
“The Finance Committee is continuing to assess the types and extent of economic disruptions resulting from the spread of coronavirus. I’m currently looking at what we can do to relieve the strain on workers, the burdens on businesses small and large, and the capacity deficits at rural hospitals. But, at this point, all options remain on the table as we determine the best course of action.
“My committee, with jurisdiction over tax, trade, and certain major federal health policy, will work with others as we determine what further economic relief measures suit the needs of our country and our economy best. I’m committed to working with all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to make sure it’s delivered.
“President Trump and his response team including the excellent health professionals at CDC and NIH have made the right decision by declaring a national emergency to help cut red tape and streamline the American government’s response to the coronavirus. The more we do now, the better off we will be down the road.”
The first package of legislation aimed at responding to coronavirus was passed eleven days ago, and provided $8.3 billion surge in resources to combat the coronavirus and provided comprehensive funding for efforts on the local, state, national and international levels. More details on that phase one legislation can be found HERE.
The second package of legislation, initially approved in the House of Representatives on Friday, has several key elements: 1) nutrition including maintaining access to school lunch and SNAP, 2) expansion of FMLA, 3) expansion of unemployment insurance, 4) new emergency paid sick-leave for employers with fewer than 500 employees, 5) tax credits for businesses to reimburse employers for the new paid-leave provisions, 6) requirements that all health-care policy-providers cover testing and testing-related visits for COVID-19, and 7) funding across government for these provisions and other efforts to combat coronavirus. This phase-two legislation is still pending in the House of Representatives. Since there were some mistakes and technical issues, a corrective measure is being put together today for the House to pass.
A forthcoming phase-three package is under development between several committees in the Senate to help families and businesses with immediate cash-flow needs to get through the immediate crisis and provide a broader economic stimulus for Americans and industries across the country. It will include target measures to ensure workers and businesses nationwide can weather this temporary but unprecedented disruption.