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House Passes $8.3 Billion Emergency Funding Bill to Combat Coronavirus

(Tom Brenner/Reuters)

The House voted on Wednesday to pass an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The bill passed in a bipartisan vote of 415-2. The Senate is planning on passing the bill later this week to fast-track it to President Trump’s desk.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R., Al.) announced the deal in a press release.

“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. “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.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Wednesday that the bill’s expedited passing is now paramount. “Our goal would be to do it this week if we get cooperation,” he said.

The $8.3 billion package will be divvied up to focus on developing new treatments and preventing the virus’s spread, with over $3 billion in research and $2.2 billion for public response efforts. Another $1.25 billion will be sent overseas for the global effort to slow the pandemic’s spread.

The amount is much higher than the Trump administration’s request of $2.5 billion, but slightly lower than Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s request of $8.5 billion. The president signaled willingness to accept more funds from Congress last week, telling reporters that “if they want to do more, we’ll do more.”

Republicans have urged that any coronavirus funding bill should not include any backdoor legislation, and sent a letter on Friday to Pelosi urging Democrats to keep an impending battle on FISA reform separate from the “must-have” bill.

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