Early Saturday morning the US House of Representatives voted 363-40 to pass a coronavirus relief package, days after the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic. The US Senate won’t take the bill up until at least Monday, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to give Senators the weekend off.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing widespread criticism Saturday for misrepresenting what the legislation would actually do.
In a letter to her Democratic colleagues Saturday Pelosi wrote:
"I am very proud to write that the provisions we put forth with your input, including paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave, enhanced Unemployment Insurance, food security initiatives and free and widespread testing, are all included in this agreement. "
The New York Times editorialized Saturday afternoon:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi early Saturday celebrated passage of legislation she described as providing paid sick leave to American workers affected by the coronavirus.
She neglected to mention the fine print.
In fact, the bill guarantees sick leave only to about 20 percent of workers. Big employers like McDonald’s and Amazon are not required to provide any paid sick leave, while companies with fewer than 50 employees can seek hardship exemptions from the Trump administration.
“If you are sick, stay home,” Vice President Mike Pence said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. “You’re not going to miss a paycheck.”
But that’s simply not true. Sick workers should stay home, but there is no guarantee in the emergency legislation that most of them will get paid.
The White House and congressional Republicans, who insisted on the exemptions as the price of bipartisan support for the legislation, bear the primary responsibility for the indefensible decision to prioritize corporate profits in the midst of a public health emergency...
The House’s failure to require universal paid sick leave is an embarrassment that endangers the health of workers, consumers and the broader American public.
There is a death star sized hole in the paid leave bill because Republicans insisted on exempting about 80 percent of workers from it and Dems capitulated. https://t.co/SpY0Ks37I7 pic.twitter.com/V1TnxYFbAK
— Adam Serwer (@AdamSerwer) March 14, 2020
Pelosi’s paid sick leave bill applies to only 20 percent of American workers. What is the point of the Democratic Party? https://t.co/Gvo1h0xZ4w
— Alex Sammon (@alex_sammon) March 14, 2020
Props to @nytopinion for calling out @SpeakerPelosi for inadequate action. “The House’s failure to require universal paid sick leave is an embarrassment that endangers the health of workers, consumers and the broader American public.” https://t.co/qnltnsa3lx
— Ben Spielberg (@BenSpielberg) March 14, 2020