On Monday night, the Executive Branch sent a supplemental funding request to Congress, asking for authorization to spend an additional $2.5 billion to fight the Coronavirus. The total would include unexpended moneys that were originally appropriated to address the threat of the Ebola virus, in addition to over $1.25 billion in new dollars. As proposed, over $1 billion would be used for vaccine development, and the balance would go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), giving the Department flexibility to be apportioned as it sees fit. Possible uses include stockpiling masks and funding improved diagnostics.
On Tuesday morning, U.S. HHS Secretary Alex Azar advised members of the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and other Senators, that the $2.5 billion-request is meant to fund efforts through the current Fiscal Year, which ends on September 30. Additional funding will be requested for the Federal Government’s next Fiscal Year. Also addressing the Committee were officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Departments of State and Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget.
Senators questioned the adequacy of the $2.5 billion-request, with Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Senator Richard Shelby stating, “It seems to me, the administration’s request is lowballing it, possibly. If you lowball something like this, you’ll pay for it later.” It appears that Congress is ready to dedicate more than $2.5 billion to Coronavirus preparedness and response.
Vice President Pence has been put in charge of Federal response.
Information useful to local governments, and to citizens, is available from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on its COVID 19 webpage as well as New Jersey Department of Health COVID-2019 page.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x121.