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[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, joined U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and 10 House Democrats to introduce the Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act, a bill to protect students’ access to school meal benefits during school closures. As of March 10, 621 schools have been closed or are scheduled to close, affecting more than 430,000 students and jeopardizing access to a critical source of nutrition for students across the country. Nearly 22 million children receive free or reduced-price lunches at their public schools.

“Millions of children rely on free or low-cost meals at schools across the nation, and we have a moral responsibility to ensure these kids still have access to food and meals during this crisis. This bill will give the USDA the flexibility it needs to accept requests from states to continue meal programs even if schools are shut down because of COVID-19,” said Jayapal.

The Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act, H.R. 6187, waives the existing requirement that prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture from approving state waiver requests that result in increased costs to the federal government.

Today, Jayapal also joined colleagues on the House Education and Labor Committee, as well as other House Democrats, to introduce legislation requiring all health insurance plans to cover the full cost of COVID-19 testing for U.S. consumers. The No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act codifies the promises made by insurers to cover COVID-19 at no cost to patients and fills potential gaps in coverage for people in self-insured plans.

Yesterday, Jayapal joined Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03) and 19 House Democrats to introduce legislation to protect the safety of health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19, formerly known as coronavirus. The COVID-19 Worker Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6139) would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue an emergency temporary safety standard to ensure health care facilities implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans to keep front line health care workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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