Congress has reached an agreement on Wednesday to provide $7.76 billion in funding to fight the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, according to reports.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) lead the negotiations that will make available three times the $2.5 billion requested by the Trump administration. The figure is modestly lower than the $8.5 billion proposed last week by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“This should not be about politics; this is about doing our job to protect the American people from a potential pandemic,” Shelby said in a statement. “We worked together to craft an aggressive and comprehensive response that provides the resources the experts say they need to combat this crisis. 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.”
The Alabama Republican added that Congress will move expeditiously to pass the bill for President Trump to sign.
On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence, who the president tasked to lead the administration’s response to the coronavirus, met with congressional Democrat and Republican leaders to discuss the ongoing effort. Earlier in the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, testified before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the illness that originated in Wuhan, China.
As of Wednesday, the virus has killed nine people and over 100 more people have been infected.