U.S. House Passes $8.3B Emergency Spending Bill For COVID-19 Response; Senate Expected To Vote On Bill Soon

CNN: House passes $8.3 billion total coronavirus response package
“The House voted on Wednesday to pass a sweeping spending package to dedicate billions of dollars to dealing with the coronavirus outbreak as lawmakers scramble to combat the spread of the disease. The measure will next need to be taken up by the Senate. The White House is expected to back the deal…” (Foran et al., 3/4).

The Hill: Lawmakers clinch deal for $8.3 billion to combat coronavirus
“…The bill, negotiated by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), provides $7.76 billion to combat the coronavirus — three times the $2.5 billion initially requested by the White House. It also authorizes another $500 million in waivers for Medicare telehealth restrictions, bringing the total figure greenlighted under the bill up to $8.3 billion…” (Carney, 3/4).

MedPage Today: Coronavirus Control Needs More $$, Better Messaging
“Public health experts called for more funding and clear messaging from the federal government to support state and local community responses to the novel coronavirus at a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing Wednesday. One of those requests was on the way to being met: later in the afternoon, the House passed an $8.3 billion emergency aid package for the COVID-19 response. The Senate will take up the package; Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who chairs a key committee, issued a press release promising to speed enactment, although it gave a figure of only $7.8 billion…” (Firth, 3/4).

POLITICO: House swiftly passes bipartisan $8.3B coronavirus package
“…The agreement comes after several days of partisan bickering over vaccine affordability and other issues that had ensnared the bipartisan, bicameral talks. Negotiators ultimately agreed to include $300 million ‘to help ensure that, when a vaccine is developed, Americans can receive it regardless of their ability to pay,’ according to a House Democratic aide. Vaccine affordability has been one of the biggest holdups to a final package…” (Emma et al., 3/4).

Wall Street Journal: House Passes $8.3 Billion Bill to Battle Coronavirus
“…The legislation, crafted by top Republicans and Democrats, caps less than two weeks of negotiations that began when the White House said it planned to spend roughly $2.5 billion on fighting the virus, an amount lawmakers said was too low. It passed the House overwhelmingly, with just two Republicans voting against it and 415 members supporting it. President Trump has said he would sign whatever package Congress approves…” (Duehren, 3/4).

Washington Post: House passes $8.3 billion emergency spending package to respond to coronavirus outbreak
“…Some 85 percent of the money in the bill would be spent domestically, but there is also $1.25 billion for the State Department to assist in battling the spread of the coronavirus overseas. This would include evacuation expenses and humanitarian aid, among other things. The final price tag on the bill dwarfed a $2.5 billion spending proposal the White House presented last week, which was divided between $1.25 billion in new funds and $1.25 billion taken from other accounts, such as an Ebola response fund. By contrast, the congressional bill is all new money…” (Werner et al., 3/4).

Additional coverage of the COVID-19 emergency spending bill, the U.S. government response, and the outbreak’s impact on U.S. elections is available from Axios, Business Insider, CNBC, Financial Times, The Hill, New York Times (2), NPR, and Washington Post.