Senators announced an agreement on $10 billion aid package for coronavirus on Monday to provide additional help for domestic testing, vaccination and treatment efforts, after dropping a push to include billions for global vaccination efforts.
The agreement requires the allocation of at least $5 billion for treatments and $750 million for research and clinical trials to prepare for future variants. The remaining funds will be used for vaccines and testing.
Do not include $5 billion to fund global vaccination efforts previously proposed, after senators spent the weekend arguing over a Republican demand for Claw money back previously approved by Congress.
The package was announced by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah. Both have led the negotiations in recent days. In a statement, Mr. Schumer said President Biden backed the agreement, even though it was less than half the White House’s original $22.5 billion request.
“The $10 billion Covid package will give the federal government – and our citizens – the tools we need to continue our economic recovery, keep schools open and keep American families safe,” Schumer said in a statement. “While this emergency injection of additional funding is absolutely necessary, it falls far short of what is really needed to keep us safe from Covid-19 in the long term.”
He added that he intends to conduct additional bipartisan negotiations on another emergency aid package that could include both assistance for global vaccination efforts and additional assistance to Ukraine as it battles a Russian invasion.
“Every dollar we’ve asked for is essential, and we will continue to work with Congress to get all the funding we need, but time is of the essence,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We urge Congress to act quickly on this $10 billion package because it can begin to fund the most urgent needs, as we currently risk not having some important tools like treatments and testing starting in May and June.”
Domestic spending is being driven largely by the reallocation of unspent money approved in March 2021 in the $1.9 trillion pandemic bill that Democrats passed without any Republican votes, as well as some money from the $2.2 trillion bill approved in The shadow of the Trump administration, which is essential. Republican demand.
Among the affected programs and agencies are the Indoor Grant Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, as well as funding for agriculture and transportation, according to the Abstracts provided by the two offices.
In a separate statement, Mr. Romney called for the legislation to receive broad bipartisan support and added that he “is prepared to explore a fiscally responsible solution to support global efforts in the coming weeks.”
Lawmakers are pushing to move the aid package before the end of the week, when both houses are scheduled to leave for a two-week recess. It’s unclear whether there will be enough support for such a rapid timetable, given that Democratic senators are aiming to confirm Justice Kitangi Brown-Jackson before the Supreme Court this week and all 100 lawmakers will have to agree to waive procedural hurdles to speed up the process.
Several House Democrats have also expressed frustration with the omission of global vaccination aid, which is central to Mr. Biden’s strategy to reduce vaccine inequality and limit the impact of the next coronavirus pandemic.
“Without funding for universal vaccination, we simply do not address the problem of COVID,” Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said: on Twitter.
But many Democrats said the urgent need for domestic assistance was enough to justify their support.
“I understand that there is also an urgent need for local public health spending, so I intend to vote for this bill,” Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat and one of the negotiators, said in a statement. “However, this is only a partial step, and I will push my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a robust international funding law in the coming weeks to address needs related to the pandemic, the growing global hunger crisis, and food security.”
Recent efforts to pass the initial $15.6 billion Covid package collapsed last month when House Democrats refused to refund money that was intended for state governments in last year’s law.
These funds have remained unchanged in the current plan. But the measure also includes a bipartisan bill, led by Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Alex Padilla, Democrat of California, that would give state, local and tribal governments more flexibility in how coronavirus aid is spent.
As access to vaccines gradually expands worldwide, vaccines are being administered Still a challenge. In many low-income countries, only about 15 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to about 80 percent of the population in many middle- and high-income countries. According to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.