March 18, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) voted to advance the House’s bipartisan coronavirus funding package in the Senate. Following the vote, King issued the following statement:
“The coronavirus outbreak is challenging our society in unprecedented ways – but we will get through it together,” said Senator King. “Today’s bipartisan legislation is a step in the right direction, providing much-needed support to both our public health infrastructure working to combat this disease and the millions of Americans who are facing financial hardship as a result of necessary changes to our daily work and social behavior.
“This is a good start from a health and emergency relief standpoint, but it’s clear this bill leaves vital work undone. As the Senate negotiates an additional legislative package in the days ahead to help American households weather the economic costs of this pandemic. I’ll be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find aggressive approaches that boost our fight against coronavirus and give American workers the tools they need to weather this hard time.”
Today’s legislation includes free coronavirus tests for all Americans, a proposal Senator King put forward last week. In addition, the bill includes paid leave for American workers impacted by the virus, unemployment benefits for workers who lose their jobs as a result of the economic slowdown, and tax credits to help compensate businesses for paid leave.
Senator King has strongly pushed for proactive efforts to protect global public health amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, he sent a letter to top Senate leaders identifying specific needs that should be addressed in the Senate’s legislative work, including additional funding for the Centers for Disease Control, issuing bonus checks to Americans making less than six-figures, and providing more funds for Meals on Wheels programs. In the last several days, he has urged the President to issue an executive order directing federal agencies to maximize telework, called on the President to use his existing authority to help address widespread shortages of medical equipment including ventilators, and joined a group of his colleagues to call on the Federal Communications Commission to temporarily use E-Rate program funding to provide Wi-Fi hotspots or devices with Wi-Fi capability to students who lack internet access at home.