Senate approves first coronavirus stimulus, sends to president

(© W. Scott McGill –

The Senate voted 90-8 Wednesday to approve a bill that ensures paid leave benefits to Americans pushed out of work due to the coronavirus shutdown.

“This legislation is a critical step forward to support workers and families impacted by the coronavirus,” U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Va., in a joint statement.

The bill, which now heads to President Trump for his signature, also guarantees free coronavirus testing, an important step as the nation attempts to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warner has joined a group of senators in writing a letter  to the governors and heads of state workforce agencies for all 50 states encouraging them to take advantage of recently enacted federal legislation that increases resources for states to deliver timely unemployment insurance benefits to affected workers.

The coronavirus economic relief legislation the Senate sent to the president’s desk today provides $1 billion in additional funding to state unemployment insurance programs. It also waives certain restrictions, including work search requirements and waiting periods for Americans who are either diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have lost their jobs due to the spread of the virus.

“The legislation should make it easier for workers to access unemployment benefits by waiving waiting weeks and work search requirements, as well as experience ratings for employers. Given these unavoidable circumstances, employers should not be penalized for encouraging their workers to receive unemployment compensation and workers should be able to access compensation immediately, particularly when other work opportunities may not be available,” the senators wrote in the letter.

Story by Chris Graham

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