President signs coronavirus relief bill; Sen. Blackburn among few who voted against it

Posted at 8:12 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 21:12:44-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — President Trump signed a $100 billion coronavirus aid package that guarantees sick leave to workers who fall ill and provides for free testing. Only eight eight senators voted against the bill, one of them was Tennessee's Marsha Balckburn.

Blackburn said in part, "it is irresponsible to implement a one-size-fits-all government mandate requiring employers to provide paid sick leave."

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes free coronavirus testing, expanded family and medical leave for some, paid emergency sick leave for some, unemployment benefits, food assistance, and protections for health care workers.

The Senate passed the bill 90-8 Wednesday. The following senators voted against the bill: Marsha Blackburn, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott. Senators Cory Gardner and Rick Scott didn’t vote.

Blackburn released the following statement Wednesday night.

“Tennessee workers and small business owners do not want unfunded federal mandates placed on them while they are struggling to keep their doors open and meet payroll. They have told me they desperately need our support for flexibility to create solutions that work for their employees. At a time when revenue has decreased for many, it is irresponsible to implement a one-size-fits-all government mandate requiring employers to provide paid sick leave. Our Tennessee hospitals and our TennCare program have serious concerns with the Medicaid provisions and we are continuing to work with them to meet the needs in our communities. I look forward to working to pass legislation that will properly address these concerns.”

Lamar Alexander disagreed with his fellow senator. He also released a statement, saying:

“I would rather Washington work with the states and their existing programs to make sure states have sufficient funding on top of their own funds to deal with the large number of laid off auto workers, restaurant workers and workers at small businesses. …I am confident Republicans and Democrats will work together to meet the needs of our nation in this trying time.”