Congressional Negotiators Strike Deal on $8.3 Billion to Fight the Coronavirus
WASHINGTON – Congressional negotiators have reached an agreement to provide $8.3 billion in funding to combat the growing coronavirus outbreak.
The full House is scheduled to consider the funding bill, H.R. 6074 – Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 – under suspension of its rules later Wednesday afternoon.
The deal was negotiated by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R- Ala., and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
The funding package is three times the $2.5 billion initially requested by the White House.
“This should not be about politics. This is about doing our job to protect the American people from a potential pandemic. We worked together to craft an aggressive and comprehensive response that provides the resources the experts say they need to combat this crisis,” Shelby said.
“The American people are counting on our government for a fully-funded, coordinated, and comprehensive government-wide response to the coronavirus,” Rep. Lowey said in a written statement.
“House Democrats’ emergency supplemental consists of robust, entirely new funding and strong transparency and accountability measures to fully address the virus and keep Americans safe from this growing public health emergency. We must quickly enact this legislation—lives are at stake,” she said.
The bill that will be considered on the House floor includes more than $3 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.
Included within that is $300 million specifically for purchasing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
The deal also provides $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including providing each state a grant of at least $4 million to respond and prepare for the coronavirus.
It would also provide $1.25 billion to the State Department and USAID including providing money for evacuations and humanitarian assistance.
The National Institutes of Health will receive $836 million under the agreement.
To protect public health, the bill will allow Medicare providers to extend telemedicine services to seniors regardless of where they live, at an estimated cost of $500 million. The bill also allows an estimated $7 billion in low-interest SBA loans to small businesses impacted by this epidemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that “Americans urgently need a coordinated, fully-funded, whole-of-government response to keep us safe from the widening coronavirus epidemic. We can do that now because today we reached a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on an emergency coronavirus response funding package.”
Pelosi went on to say, “The House will now move swiftly to pass this vital coronavirus emergency response package.”
In The News
WASHINGTON -- Defense analysts warned Congress Friday against the U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan announced this week amid indications that radical Islamists could resume terrorist attacks. They said further proof is needed that Taliban fighters would not try to seize control of Afghanistan before the Trump... Read More
WASHINGTON - During a week when newly elected members of Congress were all over Capitol Hill for their formal orientation, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., remembered how vastly different her experience was in 2012. Jay Inslee, the previous representative of Washington State's 1st Congressional District, had decided... Read More
WASHINGTON – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Material conducted a hearing Wednesday exploring the Surface Transportation Board’s part in developments to the country’s passenger rail system. During the hearing, executive officials from Metra, Amtrak and the STB gave expert testimony... Read More
WASHINGTON — Front-line workers on Capitol Hill are continuing to contract COVID-19. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 153 legislative branch employees have tested positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19, according to a Democratic aide for the House Administration Committee. This cumulative total, as of Nov. 18, includes 59... Read More
WASHINGTON - House Democrats completed their second of two days of leadership election by elevating Rep. Pete Aguilar of California to the position of caucus vice chair. The 148-82 vote, in which he prevailed over Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois, makes Aguilar the highest-ranking Latino on... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Medical experts told a Senate committee Thursday that misguided information about early treatment contributed to giving the United States the world’s highest death rate from coronavirus. Some of them blamed the Food and Drug Administration for halting a treatment they say could have reduced... Read More