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The U.S. House of Representatives on early Saturday morning passed a coronavirus relief package that guarantees free virus testing and provides financial relief to families that may suffer during the worldwide pandemic.
The bill, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was sent to the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support — 363 voted for it while 40 House members, all Republican, voted against it. Twenty-six House members, including several Florida Republicans, didn’t vote at all.
Among those voting against the bill were two Florida Republicans: Reps. Greg Steube of Sarasota and Rep. Michael Waltz of St. Augustine. In a statement, Stebue said the bill was “rushed to the floor” with 30 minutes to review 100 pages and was “filled with policy positions I could not in good conscience support."
The relief package was negotiated over several days between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, according to reports. The bill assures free virus testing for those without insurance and includes emergency food assistance for low-income people, expanded unemployment benefits, a federal paid leave benefits program for employees who miss work due to the outbreak and increases Medicaid payments to states.
It also requires businesses provide two weeks of paid sick leave to employees. The total price tag of the bill was not immediately clear and it follows the $8.3 billion already passed to fight the coronavirus.
House leaders hope these steps will stabilize the economy amid a volatile week on Wall Street and uncertainty ahead for Main Street. Airlines are laying off workers in response to new travel restrictions from foreigners, theme parks are closing, professional sports leagues have shut down and restaurants and small businesses are preparing for fewer customers as people stay home to avoid catching and spreading the virus.
President Donald Trump tweeted he “fully supported” the bill on Friday night, clearing the way for most Republicans to get behind it, too. “I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES!” he wrote.
The House package did not include a payroll tax cut through the rest of the year, which Trump had previously demanded.
Six Florida Republicans joined all 13 of the state’s Democrats in voting yes. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist called the bipartisan vote a “a forceful message to working Americans: We have your back.”
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“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives displayed what is possible when we unite as leaders to confront a threat to the American people,” Rep. Ross Spano, a Republican Dover, said in a statement.
Three Florida Republicans didn’t vote at all, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, who recently self-quarantined after coming into contact with a coronavirus patient. The other two abstaining were Reps. Francis Rooney, R-Naples, and Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville.
Hours before the vote, Gaetz speaking from Florida, told Fox News that he was opposed to the House legislation including “poison pills" and "provisions that forever change entitlement programs.”
How they voted
Neal Dunn, R-Panama City
John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville
Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee
Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park
Bill Posey, R-Rockledge
Darren Soto, D-Orlando
Val Demings, D-Orlando
Daniel Webster, R-Clermont
Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor
Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg
Kathy Castor, D-Tampa
Ross Spano, R-Dover
Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota
Brian Mast, R-Palm City
Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar
Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach
Ted Deuth, D-Boca Raton
Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston
Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties
Donna Shalala, D-Coral Gables
Michael Waltz, R-St. Augustine
Greg Steube, R-Sarasota
Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach
Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville
Francis Rooney, R-Naples
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