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Legislation provides paid leave, establishes free testing, protects health workers, and provides important benefits to children and families

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) today applauded passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to bolster the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and address the severe impacts of the coronavirus on Americans’ personal safety and financial security.

The legislation guarantees free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured—something Jayapal has championed since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. On Thursday, March 12, Jayapal and U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) wrote to Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling on the Administration to cover the cost of all COVID-19 testing and related health care services for everyone. On Friday, March 13, Jayapal, Kennedy, and U.S. Representatives Katie Porter (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL) wrote to Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to call on him to use his authority to guarantee all Americans free access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act also includes: paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave for most workers; enhanced unemployment insurance, a step that will extend protections to furloughed workers; strengthened nutrition security initiatives, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks; and increased federal funds for Medicaid to support our local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems. It builds on the bipartisan $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus spending package Congress signed into law on March 6. That package – consisting entirely of new funds – included support for state and local health agencies, vaccine and treatment development, and loans for affected small businesses to lessen the economic blow of this public health emergency.

“Washington state is at the epicenter of the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, and desperately needs immediate help from the federal government. My number one priority is to ensure Congress is doing everything we can to provide critical resources to the frontline public health experts, health care workers and first responders, and support working people and families most impacted by this public health emergency.

Last week, we passed a significant $8.3 billion package to support science-based public health activities and provide immediate resources to public health departments and necessary protective equipment to cities, counties and states, as well as frontline health care workers. Today, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes enhanced unemployment insurance, food assistance, and paid sick leave for working people and families. Importantly, this bill will guarantee free COVID-19 testing for everyone who needs it—something I have called for since day one of this crisis. It is also important that the President finally heeded the call to declare a national emergency, which allows federal agencies to begin releasing necessary supports to assist states with their responses.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic and this package cannot be the last. Congress must continue responding to emerging needs with great urgency—and continue putting science and targeted responses to help the most vulnerable working people first, especially the needs of hourly workers, including domestic workers and others, who simply do not have any safety nets to help them through these difficult times.”

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