The Senate will pass the coronavirus bill passed by the House of Representatives on Monday without changing anything in it, according to the top Republican in the upper chamber.
“With regard to the bill that came over from the House, there was some discussion about whether to amend that with a bigger proposal, because we all know a bigger proposal is necessary,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a press conference in Washington.
“But Ive decided were going to go on and vote as soon as the Senate can get permission to vote on the bill that came over from the House, send it down to the president for signature.”
Asked about senators in the Republican majority who dont like certain parts of the bill, McConnell said: “My counsel to them is to gag and vote for it anyway.”
The great crisis requires “extraordinary measures,” McConnell said when asked why Republicans would vote for a package featuring things they might ordinarily disapprove of.
The House passed a revised bill that guarantees free testing for the new virus, which originated in China last year and causes a disease called COVID-19 that can prove deadly in some patients, primarily the elderly and those who have serious health conditions already.
“This legislation is about testing, testing, testing,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said over the weekend. “To stop the spread of the virus, we have secured free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested can get their test free of charge.”
McConnell also vowed to keep the Senate in session until it passes a second bill that will include help for small businesses. That bill is being written and details cant be disclosed yet, the senator said, but promised on Twitter that the bill would include “significant and bold new steps, above and beyond what the House passed, to help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy weather this storm.”
Senators will meet with Trump administration officials to hammer out details for the new bill before entering into discussions with Democrats, who control the House, McConnell told reporters at the press conference.