Utah congressmen support bill that would bring federal aid to local workers in response to coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus Updates

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC4 News) – Two Utah congressmen voted yes to a bill that passed the U.S. House on Friday to get help for families and communities during the coronavirus outbreak.

Congressmen Ben McAdams and John Curtis both said they voted yes for a targeted coronavirus response measure that would provide free COVID-19 testing, allow workers to receive paid sick leave, and provide food access to families.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) is a bipartisan agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the House and the White House.

“I was proud to be part of bringing the House and the Administration together to provide some answers for Utah families, communities and businesses who are trying to prepare for this rapidly-evolving COVID-19 threat,” said McAdams. “From additional support to nutrition programs for women, infants and children to emergency unemployment insurance grants to states, these are commonsense steps to shore up social programs and economic needs.”

McAdams said he is following guidance from state and local officials as they evaluate further assistance needs and staying in touch with stakeholders in the public health system to understand what best supports Utah’s effective and efficient response to this public health crisis.

Representative John Curtis (R-UT) released the following statement after voting on this week’s COVID-19 emergency relief funding bill:

“Today, the House passed the second emergency relief funding bill toward fighting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although there are parts that I do not fully agree with, I was glad to vote for a compromise for the ultimate benefit of the American people. Congress should send a clear message that a public health crisis is not to be dealt with only along party lines.”

Last week, Congress passed $8 billion in emergency funding, which was signed into law by President Trump, to combat coronavirus. This funding package will help speed the development of vaccines, bolster access to testing and treatments, and expand access to telemedicine services. 

This funding will:

  • Ensure our most vulnerable populations can afford health care services to diagnose and treat the coronavirus
  • Empower the states’ efforts to protect the economic security for hourly or part-time employees, and
  • Provides paid leave benefits to those affected by the virus, allowing individuals to fully recover or care for loved ones without the stress of missing a paycheck
  • Offers tax credits to employers providing paid leave because of the virus

The bill includes $500 million to provide access to nutrition to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children, and $250 million for more home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors. The bill would also streamline the process for schools to adapt their school lunch programs due to school closures.

The legislation provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states to assist with processing and paying unemployment benefits to laid-off workers and provides additional support for states hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

McAdams said in addition it allows all employees up to two weeks paid sick leave and ensures paid sick leave covers days when a child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency or if an individual or a family member is quarantined or isolated during the emergency.

The bill would ensure that coronavirus tests are covered by private insurance and that all cost shares are waived under Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE and the Indian Health Service. The uninsured would also be able to be tested at no cost to them.

McAdams office additionally said he is implementing changes to his Congressional offices.

“First and foremost, I work for Utahns and continue to do so during COVID-19 safety precautions. Following guidance from state and local public health officials and from the House Sergeant at Arms, my DC and Utah offices will make adjustments. My staff and I continue to work full-time while not holding in-person meetings. 

McAdams office will continue to:

  • Receive and respond to telephone calls. If you need to speak to a member of my team, you can call my office at 801-999-9801 or 202-225-3011.
  • Help Utahns cut federal government red tape.  If you need assistance with a federal agency, we may be able to help. More information can be found at McAdams.house.gov 
  • Read and answer emails. If you’d like to email me, you can do so through my website. 
  • Schedule meetings. If you would like to request a meeting with me or my staff, you can submit a meeting request.  Please note, as long as our telecommuting policy is in place, we will conduct meetings over the phone rather than in person. 

“The health and safety of our community is my top priority. We will continue serving Utah in a virtual capacity and my office phone numbers remain operational. I encourage all Utahns to take this public health threat seriously and continue following the guidelines of both the CDC and local public health officials.”

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