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House OKs $8.3 billion coronavirus aid package with little debate

5 Mar 2020 7:41 AM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

Roll Call Source Article | Comments Courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

There is $10 million in the bill for training for First Responders….

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House OKs $8.3 billion coronavirus aid package with little debate

Trump has said he would accept a higher spending level than the original $2.5 billion White House request

By Jennifer Shutt

March 4, 2020

 The House approved an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to help contain the rapidly spreading COVID-19 illness on Wednesday after about 15 minutes of debate, as the death toll continued to mount in the United States and worldwide.

The vote was 415-2, easily eclipsing the two-thirds threshold necessary for passage under suspension of the rules. The two 'no' votes were Republicans Andy Biggs of Arizona and Ken Buck of Colorado. In a statement after the vote, Biggs called it a "larded-up bill" that wouldn't solve the problem and wastes taxpayer dollars.

The Senate is expected to quickly send the legislation to President Donald Trump, who said last week he would accept a higher spending level than the $2.5 billion the White House originally requested. Only half of that amount was new funding, with the rest pulled from existing programs that lawmakers said would shortchange other priorities.

"We worked together to craft an aggressive and comprehensive response that provides the resources the experts say they need to combat this crisis," Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said in a statement. "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.”

Trump's legislative director, Eric Ueland, confirmed after the House vote that the president "looks forward to signing" the bill.

Only hours earlier, Shelby said negotiators were "at a standstill" over Democratic demands to maintain drug and vaccine affordability provisions that GOP lawmakers said would stifle innovation. Asked what triggered quick turnaround in sentiment, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said: "Just a willingness on the part of both sides to have a deal."

The measure includes $300 million for the federal government to buy drug treatments, tests and eventually vaccines for the coronavirus-caused illness when those are developed.

The package would maintain standard procurement requirements for federal contracts requiring a "fair and reasonable" price for those supplies. It would also provide the Department of Health and Human Services with authority to ensure that they are "affordable in the commercial market" as long as product development isn't delayed as a result.

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