House Passes $8.3 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Funding
WASHINGTON – Rep. Peter Welch voted Wednesday night in support of bipartisan legislation (H.R. 6074) to provide $8.3 billion in emergency funding to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“The near unanimous vote in the House is a recognition of the magnitude of the challenge we face across the country in containing the spread of coronavirus,” said Welch. “This bipartisan bill is a critical step in our efforts to deliver urgently needed funding to help our front line providers and scientists prepare for this outbreak. I urge the president to sign this bill into law as soon as he receives it from the Senate later today so that we can immediately get this money out to our local communities.”
The $8.3 billion emergency funding package includes:
- $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response; including $950 million for state and local health agencies.
- $3 billion for research and development of potential vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics via the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- $1 billion for procurement of medical supplies, health care preparedness, and medical surge capacity.
- $1.25 billion for overseas assistance to combat the spread of the virus.
- $300 million to ensure that vaccines are affordable once developed.
- $100 million for health services through Community Health Centers.
The bill also includes an important Welch telehealth priority from legislation he introduced last fall (the CONNECT for Health Act, H.R. 4932), which would allow Medicare patients to receive telehealth services in their homes during the coronavirus public health emergency, regardless of where they live. The bill authorizes $500 million to provide the telehealth services.
Lastly, the bill would allow the Small Business Administration to provide $7 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The bill passed the House on an overwhelmingly bipartisan 415-2 vote. The Senate is expected to pass the bill today and the President has indicated he will sign it into law.
Vermonters looking for up-to-date information on the coronavirus can visit a resource webpage on Welch’s site.