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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 TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 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 PelosiTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE, sparked fierce opposition from some Senate Republicans, who were largely sidelined from the talks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day 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 SasseSweden bans use of Huawei, ZTE equipment in new 5G networks McConnell aims for unity amid growing divisions with Trump Cornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' 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 PaulTwo Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 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 SchumerChuck SchumerTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Trump announces opening of relations between Sudan and Israel Five takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference 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 MurrayPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Government watchdog to investigate allegations of Trump interference at CDC, FDA MORE (D-Wash.) on paid sick leave and one from Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Two Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 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 BlackburnSenate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus Senate Judiciary to vote on subpoena for Twitter CEO next week Government efforts to 'fix' social media bias overlooks the destruction of our discourse MORE (Tenn.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSexual assault case against Air Force general can proceed, judge rules House Democrat optimistic defense bill will block Trump's Germany withdrawal EPA gives Oklahoma authority over many tribal environmental issues MORE (Okla.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordMcConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate Senators push for Turkey sanctions after reports Ankara used Russian system to detect US-made jets McConnell: Plan is to confirm Trump's Supreme Court pick before election MORE (Okla.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeePence adviser Marty Obst tests positive for COVID-19 Two Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 End the American military presence in Somalia MORE (Utah), Paul, Sasse and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottFrom HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role Democrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Liberals should embrace Trump's Supreme Court nominee MORE (S.C.).