On March 11, House leadership introduced the first version of H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127). The bill was carefully negotiated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The bill includes the following significant provisions:
- Requires companies with less than 500 workers and government employers to provide paid sick leave to individuals affected by COVID-19 and would refund those employers via a tax refund. All full-time employees would receive up to 80 hours of pay under this program and part-time workers would be compensated according to their recent work history. The compensation is based on salary and capped at $511 a day, while quarantine and childcare pay is based on two-thirds of pay and is capped at $200.
- Provides food security measures, including $500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), $400 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and the elimination of the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Directs OSHA requires all healthcare companies to develop a COVID-19 exposure plan for their employees.
- Appropriates $1 billion in emergency grant funding to aid states with the processing and payment of unemployment insurance.
The bill passed the House very early in the morning on Saturday, March 14 on a bipartisan basis with a vote of 363-40 (one member voted present). On Monday, March 16, the House passed a package of technical corrections (H. Res. 904) to H.R. 6201 and sent the legislation to the Senate for consideration.
On Wednesday, March 18, the bill passed the Senate with a vote of 90-8, was sent to the President, and was signed into law by the President on Wednesday night.