Congress Strikes $8.3 Billion Deal For Coronavirus Response
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
March 4, 2020
Lawmakers in Congress have reportedly struck a $8.3 billion deal on a spending package dedicated to dealing with the novel coronavirus, CNN reported Wednesday.
The 28-page agreement calls for $7.8 billion in new appropriations, plus another $500 million that will be used to help reimburse an account that was used for the initial federal response to the virus, dubbed COVID-19, by health officials.
“This should not be about politics; this is about doing our job to protect the American people from a potential pandemic," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said, NBC News reported. "We worked together to craft an aggressive and comprehensive response that provides the resources the experts say they need to combat this crisis. I thank my colleagues for their cooperation and appreciate President Trump’s eagerness to sign this legislation and get the funding out the door without delay.”
The spending package comes as the death toll in the United States from COVID-19 infections has risen to 9, with all nine deaths located in Washington state. Meanwhile, one of the most populous counties in the country, Los Angeles County, declared a state of emergency Wednesday after six additional cases were confirmed over the last two days.
The legislation also provides more than $2 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for programs that focus on prevention, preparedness, and the agency's response. Another $3 billion would be allocated to an emergency public health fund and the National Institutes of Health for the development and testing of a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Another $1.3 billion would be provided to help protect the health of Americans who are live overseas. Another $300 million has been set aside to ensure that when a vaccine is ready, Americans will be eligible to receive it regardless of their ability to pay for it.
The House is expected to vote on the spending package later Wednesday afternoon. Two-thirds of the House will be required to pass the legislation, with leadership expecting it to pass with bipartisan support.
Photo: Getty Images