Congress reached a deal on Wednesday (March 4) for an $8.3 billion bipartisan emergency funding package to fight the Coronavirus, according to reports.
The House is expected to pass the legislation later Wednesday, and the spending bill could reach President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the week.
“We‘re doing very well in terms of getting the funding we need, the necessary funding. I asked for X, and they want to give us more than X, and that’s okay,” Trump said on Tuesday (March 3) during a visit to the National Institutes of Health.
The bill was negotiated by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY). The original amount requested by the White House was $2.5 billion.
“The administration requested $2.5 billion, which only half of that was new funding. The rest came from pulling it out of other things, like Ebola, that was very much needed as well. The bill we put together here in Congress is far more appropriate, and will actually address our country’s short- and medium-term needs,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).
Of the funds, more than $3 billion will be earmarked for disease treatment and $2.2 billion for preventing its spread. Over $1 billion will go overseas and $20 million will be used for small business loans. About $300 million will be used to make the vaccine and other therapies available to the public. The funding also gives each state a minimum $4 million grant to fight the virus and also authorizes $500 million in telehealth spending.
“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 told The Hill.
The Coronavirus outbreak is crippling the $1.7 trillion tourism industry, the biggest setback for the travel sector in almost 20 years. The spread of the virus has been slowing in China, but increasing elsewhere.
South Korea and Italy have reported over 8,000 cases combined. The World Health Organization said on Tuesday (March 3) that the global death rate is 3.4 percent. Nine people have died of the virus in the U.S.; 2,981 have died in China. There are 80,270 people infected worldwide.