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Oklahoma Senators Voted Against Coronavirus Relief Bill

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Just eight U.S. senators voted against a sweeping coronavirus relief bill signed into law Wednesday by President Trump, and two were from Oklahoma.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provdes for free testing, expands nutrition and unemployment benefits, and temporarily boosts Medicaid assistance to states. Sen. Jim Inhofe said his sticking point was a provision requiring businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave to their workers.

"We have a lot of small businesses that are really hurting because they’re out of business. There are no restaurants around. And so, there are a lot of people who are unemployed," Inhofe said.

While small businesses would get tax credits to help reimburse their costs for paid sick leave, Inhofe said he’d rather see a solution where they don’t have to pay for it up front, like a failed amendment to set up a federally backed unemployment insurance fund.

Sen. James Lankford also said he voted against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act because it could hurt small businesses.

"Small businesses are really struggling with how they’re going to pay for this when they have no income coming in right now. They’re hearing the promise of a federal reimbursement coming to them, but they don’t know when that’s coming and they’re literally teetering on the edge," Lankford said.

Businesses with fewer than 50 workers may opt out of offering paid leave if it would put them in danger of closing.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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