WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives could try to march forward on a massive CARES 2 package for the coronavirus with a vote, possibly as early as the end of this week. But the content in the bill, which is expected to exceed $2 trillion, is clashing with the Republican-controlled Senate and the president.
A major point of contention is that President Trump had suggested payroll tax cuts, which Democrats have disagreed with.
Also, Republicans have signaled to hit pause on more legislation until they see exactly how the first few bills have fared in order to craft a well-rounded new package. Despite that, Democrats seem to be moving forward with their own bills and said the American people, state and local governments, and the unemployed need more assistance.
Southern California lawmaker Norma Torres is fighting for a bill with 76 other lawmakers to protect medical professionals.
“We’re all scared but none of us are tasked with having to go into a war zone,” Torres said. “Every single day, in taking care of people that are severely sick and highly infectious and this is what we’re asking of our nurses, of our doctors of our EMTs.”
Torres said this new bill could help: Support families of lost loved ones who worked in the medical field, prevent pay cuts, protect workers from complaint retaliation, and provide hazard pay, for situations like temporary housing.
This is a situation Sacramento Emergency Room Physician Dr. Aimee Moulin, with the American College of Emergency Physicians, said she has seen several colleagues have to revert to living in motels or trailers outside their home to keep their families safe.
“A whole new paradigm that we’re dealing with,” Moulin said.
Moulin said she’s used to seeing critical patients, but these days, it’s not the same.
“Frankly, we see people who die in the Emergency Department on a regular basis. It’s never easy, you never get over it. But this is sort of a different thing, because it’s so unknown, and because just walking into the room, you know you’re putting yourself at risk,” Moulin said.
Millions of health professionals are more at risk of the deadly coronavirus, due to heightened exposure and intimate procedures. Moulin said she knows any day could be her last.
“Going to work and sort of confronting your own mortality, just going into work, is not something I ever anticipated having to do. I have admitted my own ICU nurse to my own ICU; that was really hard,” Moulin said.
She said she often thinks about how her job could affect her family of five, and said Torres’ congressional bill could ease the burden.
“It’s really easy for us to look at our soldiers,” Torres said. “And see them with their gear and they get on planes and ships and then they go off to fight a war in a foreign land. In essence, this is the same thing that we are asking our nurses and doctors, except they don’t get to have a vest; they don't get to have a gun with bullets; many of them have not been given the proper equipment they need to protect themselves.”
Moulin said she knew right away this legislation could help her and her colleagues, by lifting some stress off their shoulders. She said it could help medical workers who are treated unfairly speak up without retaliation.
“Personally I think it’s very important,” Moulin said. “I’m so incredibly proud of all of my colleagues across the country and the work that they’re doing and the risks that they’re taking. But when I think back to signing up to be an emergency physician this is not something I ever thought that we would have to face… This is our new reality, this is my new reality and my new job for a really long time; that’s hard.”
This bill could also help medical workers with child care costs, housing, and mental stress. Torres said she hopes for a vote on this bill in the next CARES 2 package, which could come as early as this week in the House.