Coronavirus updates in Texas: Congress passes free coronavirus testing bill, some GOP Texans vote no


The U.S. Capitol building is seen before U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in front of the U.S. Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED Tags: POLITICS) James Lawler Duggan/REUTERS

Saturday's biggest developments:

  • Congress passes sweeping coronavirus bill

Some Texas Republicans vote against U.S. House bill to provide free coronavirus testing

[8:00 a.m.] The U.S House overwhelmingly passed a measure early Saturday morning that aimed to mitigate the spread and economic impact of the new coronavirus.

The final tally was 363-40 on a package that included free testing for the virus, expanded food aid and expanded sick leave benefits for workers.

All Texas Democrats and 12 Republicans supported the bill. But Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Babin of Woodville, Michael Cloud of Victoria, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Lance Gooden of Terrell, Chip Roy of Austin and Randy Weber of Friendsville voted against the package. U.S. Reps. Kenny Marchant of Coppell, Pete Olson of Sugar Land and John Ratcliffe of Heath were not present.

Doctors notified Gohmert earlier this week that he was potentially exposed to the virus at the conservative CPAC conference late last month. Gohmert opted against self-quarantining, unlike Sen. Ted Cruz, who also was notified he was also potentially exposed.

The bill includes free testing for even uninsured people. And it provides free food for children whose schools are closed, as well as assistance for food banks and seniors.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin negotiated the deal, which is expected to pass the Senate. It has the support of President Donald Trump.— Abby Livingston