Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress.
Tuesday, May 12, the House Democrats introduced a $3 trillion coronavirus relief and stimulus bill. The Bill titled Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act provides $75 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for a national testing and contact tracing initiative to be implemented through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in coordination with State, local, Tribal, and territorial health departments.
In addition to funding to support testing and contract tracing at the CDC and local level, the bill included the following areas of interest to our field:
CDC received an additional $2.13 billion:
HRSA received an additional $7.61 billion to support expanded health care services
Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS received $15 million to provide rental assistance and support services during coronavirus
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) received $3 billion to increase mental health support during COVID-19
This bill will be voted on in the House today, May 15. However, it does not have bipartisan support, or support from progressives, with Congressional Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Pocan and Jaypal sending a letter to Democratic leadership asking them to delay the vote.
On Tuesday, May 12 the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Stephan Hahn, Commissioner, Food and Drugs, Food and Drug Administration. During the briefing, Dr. Fauci warned against states opening back-up without strategies and plans in place to respond to new coronavirus infections, stating that states could start to see COVID-19 spikes that could turn into outbreaks. Dr. Giroir estimated that the US will be able to provide 40 to 50 million point of care test per month to states. You can find video of the full testimony here.