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Trump officials and Senate GOP leaders urge immediate action on House-passed coronavirus bill

March 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Senior Trump administration officials urgently pressed GOP senators to approve a House-passed bill to deal with the coronavirus pandemic -- and quickly act on a major economic stimulus package amid growing fears that the outbreak could send the country into recession.

(CNN)Senior Trump administration officials urgently pressed GOP senators to approve a House-passed bill to deal with the coronavirus pandemic -- and quickly act on a major economic stimulus package amid growing fears that the outbreak could send the country into recession.

In a closed-door meeting Monday night, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged GOP senators to get behind the House bill, which had prompted growing Republican concerns in recent days, with top officials warning the economic situation is too precarious and the threat to public health too severe to let the measure hang in limbo for days.

He also told senators to get behind the House-passed measure, which would ensure individuals have access to free testing for the disease and displaced workers have access to paid leave, bolster unemployment insurance benefits, expand food stamps and increase federal funding for Medicaid programs.

Ueland and Mnuchin told reporters that the House bill, which the treasury secretary negotiated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, should be passed immediately despite the concerns among some Republicans that the measure could hurt small businesses.

The fast-moving developments came after the House's sweeping coronavirus relief bill, which had been barreling forward in the Senate, had hit a speed bump earlier in the day amid objections by Republicans and a suggestion by President Donald Trump that the Senate would make further changes to the measure.

The House approved a set of changes to the coronavirus stimulus bill by unanimous consent, clearing the path for the Senate to consider it.

Indeed, a growing number of top Republicans suggested that the Senate should quickly adopt the House plan -- and worry about other proposals for the next response to the crisis.

Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team, told CNN it's "my inclination" to let the House bill pass unchanged and focus on the next bill.

"I don't think the House bill is going to pass the Senate as it is written for one basic problem: It doesn't go far enough and it doesn't go fast enough," GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said on the floor of the Senate, referring to the bill's system for small businesses to get tax credits for paid leave for their displaced employees.

The Senate was prepared to take steps to pass the House's bipartisan FISA reauthorization bill, which passed last week, but objections from critics like GOP Sens.

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