The White House and congressional Republicans have poured cold water on the House Democrats’ coronavirus legislation to provide economic relief to Americans, signaling there won’t be immediate broad bipartisan support for the pending bill unless it undergoes changes.
One senior administration official said the White House has “serious concerns” with the measure put forth by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., late Wednesday to help families deal with the economic hardships of the pandemic.
And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the legislation “comes up short.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is also opposed to the bill, putting the legislation in limbo.
President Trump doesn’t support the legislation in its current form and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continues to work with Pelosi on changing some language, White House officials told Fox News Thursday morning.
Among the White House concerns are increasing spending on Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income families, without structural reforms, and not including language to ban federal funds for abortion, the official said.
CORONAVIRUS IN THE US: STATE-BY-STATE BREAKDOWN
McCarthy said there’s two “major problems.” First, creating a paid sick leave program through the Social Security Administration that would take six months to set up and hamper the agency’s normal functioning of disbursing checks to senior citizens. The second is forcing permanent paid sick leave “for all businesses without exemptions and no sunsets,” McCarthy said.
But McCarthy expressed optimism that all sides could come together in the short term and find some sort of agreement on immediate needs.
“I think we can get this done in 24 to 48 hours,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said House Republicans offered their own ideas, including employee retention credit, making public health emergencies eligible for major programs and making millions more face masks available to health workers.
The White House also wanted a payroll tax holiday in the legislation, which Pelosi did not include.
House Democrats unveiled legislation late Wednesday that calls for paid sick leave, free testing and provides funding to states that say they will help address economic hardships faced by Americans as the country grapples with the coronavirus.
The 124-page bill was slated to be considered in the House Thursday before the House leaves for recess at the end of the week.
“I think we stay here, get it right,” McCarthy said, in pleading for time for stakeholders to work on a better bill.
Pelosi said they remain in talks with the administration and are open to changes. She said the bill is still expected to pass Thursday.
Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a statement that the new bill will build on the $8.3 billion legislation that was passed earlier.
“House Democrats’ new legislation puts working families first by providing new resources and more protections as our country faces this public health crisis,” Lowey said.
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Trump late Wednesday laid out his plans to suspend all travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days beginning Friday at midnight in an effort to slow the virus’ spread. His address came hours after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 a global pandemic and the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. climbed to more than 1,200.
Fox News’ Blake Burman, Chad Pergram and Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.