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Trump signs coronavirus aid package


President Trump on Wednesday signed into law a multibillion-dollar emergency aid package aimed at helping Americans impacted by the coronavirus.

The House-passed measure was approved by the Senate earlier Wednesday and includes provisions offering paid leave benefits for Americans, bolstered unemployment benefits and free diagnostic testing for the virus.

“The [Families First Coronavirus Response Act] makes emergency supplemental appropriations and other changes to law to help the Nation respond to the coronavirus outbreak,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday evening announcing he had signed the bill.

The bipartisan bill, which is the product of days of negotiations last week between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is the second such legislative package passed by Congress to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

Trump endorsed the legislation on Friday before it was passed in a late-night vote in the House. The lower chamber approved technical corrections to the bill in a vote late Monday, and the Senate passed it in a 90-8 vote Wednesday afternoon. A handful of Republican senators voted against the legislation.

The bill’s signing comes as the Trump administration is negotiating with Senate Republicans on an economic stimulus package to assist small businesses, American workers and specific sectors such as the airline industry impacted by the coronavirus. The White House has proposed a $1 trillion stimulus package, which would include sending direct cash payments to Americans.

The coronavirus has infected more than 7,000 Americans, forced restaurants and other businesses to close, and caused airlines to significantly cut back on flights in recent days.

Trump last week declared a national emergency over the virus and on Monday recommended that Americans avoid restaurants and bars, cut back on unnecessary travel, and restrict gatherings to 10 or fewer people over the next few weeks as the federal government tries to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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