Coronavirus and Congress

As you likely already know, Congress has, for the most part, been out of session for the last two months. The only exceptions have been when they came together to pass major legislation dealing with the coronavirus situation.

As is typical of “emergency” legislation, some details contained in the measures are not widely reported. Following is some information on the first two (of four) coronavirus spending bills that have been signed into law so far.

The first bill, H.R. 6074, provided $8.3 billion for government health agencies to provide medical equipment and other services to deal with the outbreak.


The bill passed the House on March 4 by a vote of 415-2. Republicans Ken Buck (CO-05) and Andy Biggs (AZ-05) were the two lone no votes.


You can see that vote here.


Senator Rand Paul had an amendment to the bill to pay for it by cutting foreign aid.


Only 15 Senators voted to allow a full debate and up-or-down vote on Rand’s amendment. You can see the vote here.


You can see Senator Paul’s speech on his amendment here.


Senator Paul was the only Senator to vote against the bill. You can see the vote here.


The next bill was H.R. 6201, which mandated certain employers provide paid sick leave and expanded Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and food stamps.


Employers can receive a tax credit for costs incurred in providing paid sick leave.


The law also mandates that private health insurance companies cover costs of coronavirus testing but provides they can be reimbursed for the costs by the federal government.


The bill passed without a Congressional Budget Office score, so Congress voted on it without any idea of how much taxpayer money it would  spend. The total cost could be over $180 billion dollars.


The bill passed the House on March 14 by a vote of 363-40. You can see the vote here.


The final version of the bill was not available until the day of the vote, so there was little time for legislators to read it before voting.


The bill passed the Senate on March 18 by a vote of 90-8. The eight Senators voting no were:


Marsha Blackburn (TN)

James Inhofe (OK)

Ron Johnson (WI)

James Lankford (OK)

Mike Lee (UT)

Rand Paul (KY)

Ben Sasse (NE)

Tim Scott (SC)


You can see the vote here.

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