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Courtney Statement on Senate Approval of House-Passed COVID-19 Response Package

March 18, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released the following statement today after the United States Senate voted to approve the House-passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), the House’s latest bipartisan legislative package that would provide American families with financial stability and security amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Courtney voted last week to pass H.R. 6201, and this morning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that he would support passage of the House’s latest Coronavirus aid bill.


“Since Friday, there have been thousands of new applications for unemployment assistance in Connecticut each day,” said Congressman Courtney. “There is a clear and urgent need for these funds to make their way into our communities as fast as possible, and it should have never taken this long to pass a bill that the House passed on a bipartisan basis last week. The Families First bill would provide free COVID-19 testing for all Americans who need it, and it goes straight to the heart of some of the most pressing concerns that folks have right now. The bill will provide resources to help ensure that Americans are provided with paid sick leave, as well as paid family leave. It will also extend unemployment benefits to laid off workers while we continue to see economic contraction, expand food assistance programs, significantly increase Medicaid funding, and more.


“Two weeks ago, the House led the way on passing the first round of $8.3 billion in COVID-19 relief funding. Our communities are now starting to see those resources put to work in the form of supplies for medical professionals on the ground, support for small businesses through SBA loans, and more, but we’ve got a long way to go. I’m glad to see our latest aid package move on to the President's desk for signature, but we cannot continue to delay these bipartisan bills while families and businesses in eastern Connecticut deal with the fallout of this health emergency in real time. We’ve got to keep working together, across the aisle to manage this outbreak and to protect our communities, and that’s what I intend to do.”


Two key provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act include measures Rep. Courtney helped introduce to ensure that all health insurance providers cover COVID-19 testing at no cost to patients, and that would protect students’ access to federally-supported school meals programs during school closures due to the Coronavirus epidemic.

Other provisions include:


  • Free Coronavirus Testing – Ensuing that all Americans, including those with private insurance, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured, have access to free tests
  • Paid Leave – Providing up to 10 days of emergency paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance – Extending unemployment benefits to workers laid off amid economic contraction brought on by COVID-19
  • Expanded Food Assistance Programs – Providing nutritious food to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, helping local food banks meet increased demand and offering home-delivered meals to low-income seniors. It also makes sure that children who depend on free and reduced-price meals at school continue to have access to nutritious foods in the event of extended school closures
  • Increased Medicaid Funding – Boosting federal support for states to respond to expected increased volume and absorb unexpected costs, including a 6.2% FMAP (matching funds) increase for traditional Medicaid populations, in place through calendar year 2020, that will deliver approximately $35 billion to states, including an estimated $440 million to Connecticut

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act builds on the $8.3 billion in emergency funding passed by Congress and signed into law last week to help federal, state and local governments fight the virus and keep Americans safe.