Senate passes House's coronavirus aid bill, sending it to Trump

The Senate passed the House’s coronavirus aid package on Wednesday, sending it to President TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE, who is expected to sign it. 

Senators voted 90-8 on the bill that passed the House in a middle-of-the-night Saturday vote but needed dozens of pages of corrections and changes, which cleared the chamber on Monday. 

The measure, which the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates will cost $104 billion, is the second package that Congress has passed amid growing concerns about the widespread coronavirus outbreak in the United States that has already bludgeoned the economy.

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The vote on the second package comes as senators are already working on “phase three,” with Senate Republicans wanting to pass that next week. The third coronavirus bill is expected to include help for impacted small businesses, industries and families, including direct cash payments for Americans.

McConnell has created GOP task forces for drafting the bill. Republicans briefed their colleagues during a closed-door lunch Wednesday and are expected to hand over their work by Thursday.

The majority leader told reporters after the lunch that Republicans were "getting close" and "hoping to be together shortly."

The bill approved Wednesday bolsters unemployment insurance and guarantees free diagnostic testing for the coronavirus. 

It also provides up to 10 days of paid sick leave for some workers. It caps that at companies with 500 employees and would allow for those with fewer than 50 to apply for a waiver. 

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But the bill’s path through the Senate wasn’t without drama.

The House bill, which was negotiated by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Attacking the Affordable Care Act in the time of COVID-19 DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Trump asserts power to decide what info inspector general gives Congress about stimulus package MORE, sparked fierce opposition from some Senate Republicans, who were largely sidelined from the talks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (R-Ky.) tipped his hand to the frustration ahead of Wednesday’s vote. 

“I will vote to pass their bill. This is a time for urgent bipartisan action, and in this case, I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that will help even a subset of workers,” McConnell said. 

“However, the House’s bill has real shortcomings. It does not even begin to cover all of the Americans who will need help in the days ahead,” he added. 

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GOP senators have bristled, in particular, over the paid sick leave provisions over concerns that it will negatively impact small businesses, some of which are already facing closure and potential layoffs because of the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseHouse Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus How much damage? The true cost of the Senate's coronavirus relief bill Senate rejects GOP attempt to change unemployment benefits in coronavirus stimulus bill MORE (R-Neb.) railed against the bill, as well as Congress’s larger rush to likely spend hundreds of billions of dollars. 

“There is a herd mentality around this building right now where a lot of normally smart people are literally saying things like: The most important thing is to be fast, even if the ideas that are being advocated for are not really ready for prime time and can't really withstand the scrutiny of debate. That is a really dumb idea,” Sasse said. 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCoronavirus in Congress: Lawmakers who have tested positive Pennsylvania congressman tests positive for coronavirus South Carolina congressman tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.), meanwhile, forced an amendment vote that would have paid for the spending, partly by ending the war in Afghanistan. Paul warned that without covering the spending, Congress’s ability to borrow in the future could be impacted. 

“All because we refused to do what we were elected to do, which is to prioritize the truly vital, such as coronavirus relief and medical research, over the extraneous, such as spending money on clown colleges, gas stations and roads in Afghanistan,” he said. 

The Senate rejected that amendment in a 3-95 vote, and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing COVID-19, Bill Barr and the American authoritarian tradition MORE (D-N.Y.) knocked the libertarian-minded GOP senator for forcing the issue at all. 

"In a time of national emergency, this Republican amendment is ridiculous, a colossal waste of time. ... We are all eager to dispatch this absurd Republican amendment and send this bill to the president,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. 

The Senate also shot down two other amendments: One from Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday Senate Democrats propose canceling student loan payments during coronavirus Stimulus plan hinges on McConnell, Schumer repairing toxic relationship MORE (D-Wash.) on paid sick leave and one from Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner GOP seeks up to 0 billion to maximize financial help to airlines, other impacted industries Dr. Rand Paul's prescription for combating the coronavirus crisis MORE (R-Wis.) that would strip the paid leave language and replace it with expenses unemployment insurance. 

Eight Republicans voted against the bill: Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump must cut our dependence on Chinese drugs — whatever it takes Senate passes House's coronavirus aid bill, sending it to Trump Nikki Haley expected to endorse Loeffler in Senate race MORE (Tenn.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC Overnight Defense: Stimulus bill has .5B for Pentagon | Money would be blocked from border wall | Esper orders 60-day freeze for overseas troop movements Senate panel switches to 'paper hearings' amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (Okla.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordFormer Sen. Tom Coburn dies at 72 Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing Senior GOP senators object to direct payments at caucus meeting MORE (Okla.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump on Romney's negative coronavirus test: 'I am so happy I can barely speak' Romney says he tested negative for coronavirus, will remain in quarantine Paul defends actions before coronavirus diagnosis, calls for more testing MORE (Utah), Paul, Sasse and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHow much damage? The true cost of the Senate's coronavirus relief bill Senate unanimously passes T coronavirus stimulus package Senate rejects GOP attempt to change unemployment benefits in coronavirus stimulus bill MORE (S.C.).