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U.S. Senate approves virus relief package to provide paid sick leave, other benefits

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on the Senate floor.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on the Senate floor.

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a House-passed coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for COVID-19 and paid emergency leave, clearing the measure for President Donald Trump's signature.

The vote was a lopsided 90-8 despite worries by many Republicans about a temporary new employer mandate to provide sick leave to workers who get COVID-19. The measure also makes diagnostic tests for the virus free, bolsters unemployment insurance, increases spending on health insurance for the poor and adds $1 billion in food aid.

The legislation would provide many workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are being tested or treated for coronavirus or have been diagnosed with it. Also eligible would be those who have been told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms.

Under the bill, however, those payments would be capped at $511 a day, roughly what someone making $133,000 earns annually.

Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children's schools have closed would still receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit would now be limited to $200 a day.

Big businesses -- those with more than 500 employees -- however, are exempted from offering their employees paid sick leave or family leave under the bill.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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