Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress.
This morning, the president signed an emergency funding package of $8.3 billion to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The package was termed “emergency funding” and was appropriated outside the fiscal caps, which means the new funding was not offset by cuts elsewhere.
Earlier this week, there was some controversy among members of Congress over provisions in the $8.3 billion package because of disagreements over how to make treatment and future vaccines affordable. The final agreement includes $300 million for the federal government to buy treatments, tests, and future vaccines. The bill would maintain the requirement for a “fair and reasonable price” for supplies procured under federal contracts. It would also provide the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to ensure that supplies are “affordable in the commercial market” as long as that doesn’t delay product development. Most of the funding, $6.5 billion, would be for HHS to stockpile medical supplies and develop treatments.
This package also includes a total funding level of $2.2 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19. It includes no less than $950 million for grants or cooperative agreements with states, localities, territories, tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes to carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other preparedness and response activities.