Over $8 Billion Coronavirus Response Package Passed by House
The US House of Representatives voted to pass a comprehensive relief package consisting of billions of dollars to help combat the spreading coronavirus outbreak. Next, the relief plan will head over to the Senate for approval.
The agreement allocated $7.8 billion in appropriations to address the outbreak throughout the country. It also provides an additional $500 million to fund a telehealth program that will provide expanded access to healthcare services for seniors.
The total value of the funding is far greater than the initial White House request of $2.5 billion, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have agreed that the increased funds are necessary to address the growing threat to the public. A $3 billion chunk of the funding will go towards helping fund research and development for vaccines, as well as diagnostic testing and potential therapeutic treatments for the coronavirus.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that the Senate is aiming to pass the emergency funding by the end of the week. The White House has indicated it will support the bill without question.
This is on the heels of California, Washington, and Florida declaring a state of emergency due to a growing number of cases within their borders. While the relief package does not explicitly address how the funding will be allocated specifically, a $950 million potion will be provided to state and local grants, with each state receiving a minimum of $4 million.
Reeling from the severe shortage of crucial medical supplies, $3.1 billion will be used to purchase the necessary equipment for federal, state, and local health departments. Some of these supplies will go towards beefing up the Strategic National Stockpile, which serves as the largest national repository of emergency treatments.