WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Senate bargainers have struck a deal on a $10 billion package to combat COVID-19 with treatments, vaccines and other steps, top Democratic and Republican negotiators said, but not enough to help countries overseas. All funding for Epidemic.
The agreement garnered prompt support from President Joe Biden on Monday, Who had initially insisted on a package of $22.5 billion. In a jiffy, he settled for very little, despite the administration’s warnings that the government was running out of money. To keep pace with the disease’s continuing — though less — spread in the US
“All the dollars we have requested are necessary and we will continue to work with Congress to obtain all the necessary funding,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “But time is of the essence. We urge Congress to move forward on this $10 billion package as quickly as it can begin to address the most immediate needs.”
Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., his party’s leading bargainer, dropped Biden’s request, which included $5 billion to help countries — especially poor ones — where This disease is still prevalent.
Biden and top Democrats’ inability to protect the extra spending they wanted came after the GOP on both sides sought to pay for it by pulling back unspent aid from earlier pandemic measures., It also reflects the dwindling political power that is battling COVID-19 this election year, two years into a pandemic that began with bipartisan support throwing trillions of dollars at it.
Mitt Romney of Utah, the leading GOP bargainer, hailed the agreement, which would address “urgent COVID needs.” He also trumpeted the measure’s savings, which he said meant “the American people won’t have to spend an extra dollar.”
Still uncertain Monday was whether objections by some Republicans could prevent the Senate from considering the bill this week, as Biden wants, before Congress begins a two-week spring break. It was also not yet certain that there would be a minimum of 10 GOP votes needed to pass in a 50-50 chamber.
Its fate was also not guaranteed in the House, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and several liberals have criticized the rejection of global aid. But party leaders there indicated that they were ready to compromise.
“There is only so much the Senate can do right now that I deeply regret, then I think we need to pass it as quickly as possible,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD. A senior House Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the internal thinking, said it would be best to take what was achievable and fight more later.
Schumer said the agreement would provide “the tools we need” to help the country recover from the economic and public health blows that COVID-19 has inflicted. But he added that while $10 billion is “absolutely necessary, it is far less than what is really needed to stay safe over time”.
He said members of both sides want to prepare a second spending measure this spring that could include money to fight COVID-19 and hunger abroad and more aid for Ukraine as it battles Russian aggression. The fate of such a measure is uncertain.
Romney also suggested openness to the idea of future money. “While this agreement does not include funding for the US global immunization programme, I look forward to exploring a financially responsible solution to support global efforts in the coming weeks,” he said.
The deal comes with BA.2, the new Omron variant, which is expected to drive a fresh increase in US cases. Around 980,000 Americans and more than 6 million people have died worldwide from COVID-19.
According to Schumer and Romney’s fact sheet, at least $10 billion of the agreement will be used for research and production of therapies to treat the disease.
The money will also be used to buy vaccines and tests. At least $750 million will be used to research new COVID-19 variants and expand vaccine production, the details said.
Administration officials have said that the government does not have money for COVID-19 testing and treatment for uninsured people. He has also said funds are running low for boosters, vaccines focused on specific variants, free monoclonal antibody treatments and care for people with immune system weaknesses.
The deal is less than the $15 billion version that the leaders of the two sides negotiated last month. Pelosi abandoned that plan after Democratic lawmakers rejected proposed cuts in state pandemic aid to help pay for the package.
Democrats in both houses complained about the collapse of global spending.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., leader of the House Progressive Caucus, said ditching international aid is “a huge problem” and that “money is not to be spent to make sure this virus is contained around the world.”
Sen. Chris Koons, D-Dell, a leading foreign policy voice, said he would support the bill but called it a “serious mistake” for not helping other countries’ efforts. He called it “fiscally foolish” for not sending tens of millions of unused US vaccines overseas to the 2.8 billion unvaccinated people around the world.
Dealers said the measure paid off in full by pulling back unused money from past pandemic relief bills.
Romney’s fact sheet says it includes $2.3 billion from a fund protecting aviation manufacturing jobs; $1.9 billion in funding to help entertainment venues closed by the pandemic; another $1.9 billion from a program that helps states provide loans to small businesses; and $1.6 billion from agricultural assistance programs.