1. Background
  2. Economic Justice

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a Step in the Right Direction

By Andre Gobbo, March 20, 2020


The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) will provide crucial assistance to individuals and communities affected by the coronavirus outbreak – particularly the most vulnerable members of our society. While this legislation does not include all of FCNL’s priorities, it is a vital step forward. Here are the main provisions of the bill:

  • Strengthen food security initiatives
    • Provides funding and access to crucial food security programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and additional senior nutrition programs.
    • Provides nutrition assistance for kids who are missing meals due to school closures.
    • Suspends existing work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and allows states to access emergency SNAP benefits.
  • Provide funding for emergency paid sick and family leave
    • Requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick and family leave.
      • Provides two weeks of full pay for people to seek or get treatment for COVID-19 (up to $511 per person per day).
      • Provides two weeks of two-thirds pay for people who are caring for family members or children whose schools are closed due to COVID-19 (up to $200 per person per day).
      • After two weeks of paid leave, employees can receive two-thirds of their usual pay for 12 weeks (up to $200 per person per day).
  • Ensure everyone can be tested for COVID-19, regardless of income or access to health insurance.
    • Requires private health plans, Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP to cover the costs of COVID-19 testing. This provision also covers Americans who don’t have any health insurance.
  • Provide $1 billion for states to administer the spike in unemployment insurance claims, and temporarily eliminates eligibility requirements to enable quicker access to benefits.
    • Gives states funding to extend the length of unemployment assistance if their unemployment rate increases by 10 percent.
  • Increase federal Medicaid funding to states during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many of these provisions align with our priorities when it comes to addressing COVID-19. Congress must prioritize the most vulnerable members of our society, and H.R. 6201 is a crucial step in the right direction.

Update As Congress Works on Another Emergency Coronavirus Package, More Must be Done to Protect the Vulnerable 

Following the passage of an $8 billion package earlier in the month, Congress just passed a second emergency bill aimed at addressing the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Background Responding to the Coronavirus 

The coronavirus pandemic is a generational threat, and its impacts will be felt by all of us. But know this: Our work for peace and justice will go on. Here’s how we will continue our advocacy in the face of COVID-19 and how you can join us.

Andre Gobbo

  • Legislative Representative, Domestic Policy

Andre Gobbo adds capacity to the Domestic Policy team by handling constituent queries, writing action alerts and sign-on letters, assisting with lobbying visits, creating informational content, supporting coalition relationships, and helping execute FCNL’s legislative strategies.