WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate negotiators reached agreement on a $10 billion lightened package to address COVID-19, top Democratic and Republican negotiators said Monday, but the measure cut all funding to help nations abroad to combat the
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate negotiators reached agreement on a $10 billion lightened package to fight COVID-19, top Democratic and Republican negotiators said Monday, but the measure cut all funding to help countries abroad to fight the pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said the deal would give the government “the tools we need” to continue to fight the disease. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, announced budget savings to whatever extent he thought meant it. “will not cost the American people a single extra dollar.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bipartisan Senate negotiators agreed to a $10 billion stripped-down package to counter COVID-19, but without any funds to help countries abroad fight the pandemic, Democrats said Monday. and Republicans familiar with the talks.
At least half of the measure should be used to research and produce therapies to treat the disease, according to a fact sheet distributed by chief GOP negotiator, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. And at least $750 million would be used to research new variants of COVID-19 and to expand vaccine production, according to the description.
The deal comes with party leaders hoping to push the legislation through Congress this week, before lawmakers leave for a two-week spring break. It also comes with BA.2, the new omicron variant, which is expected to trigger a further increase in cases in the United States. About 980,000 Americans and more than 6 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19.
The deal represents a significant reduction from the $22.5 billion originally requested by President Joe Biden and from a $15 billion version that leaders of both parties negotiated last month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., scrapped that plan after Democratic lawmakers rejected proposed cuts to state pandemic aid to help pay for the package.
The $15 billion plan included about $5 billion for the global effort to fight COVID-19, which is plaguing many countries, especially poorer ones. The overall price went down and world money plummeted as the two sides were unable to agree on more than $10 billion in budget savings to pay for it.
Some people said the fate of the new deal remained uncertain in the House, where Pelosi and the Liberal Democrats voiced their opposition to cutting out money to help other countries.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, leader of the House Progressive Caucus, said erasing global aid from the package “is a big deal”, and said she and other supporters of helping other countries have voiced their objections to the House leadership and Senate negotiators. “It’s really short-sighted not to spend money to make sure this virus is contained in the world,” Jayapal, a Washington state Democrat who has worked in the field of health, told reporters. global public health for a decade.
The two Democrats and three Republicans who described the deal did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the talks.
One of the Democrats and a third member of that party said it was unclear whether the emerging package would attract the minimum 10 GOP votes needed for the measure to pass the Senate 50-50. The others said the necessary Republican votes would be there.
The measure is fully paid for by withdrawing unspent funds from previous pandemic relief bills that have been signed into law, negotiators said.
Romney’s fact sheet says those savings include $2.3 billion from a fund protecting jobs in aircraft manufacturing; $1.9 billion in cash to help entertainment venues shut down by the pandemic; an additional $1.9 billion from a program that helps states extend credit to small businesses; and $1.6 billion from agricultural assistance programs.
AP writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.
Alan Fram, Associated Press