Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters about the Coronovirus supplemental funding bill as he rubs Purell sanitizer on his hands in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
A House Democratic aide told CNBC that the supplemental funding bill includes:
- More than $3 billion dedicated to the research and development of vaccines, as well as therapeutics and diagnostics;
- $2.2 billion in public health funding to aid in prevention, preparedness and response efforts — including $950 million to support state and local agencies;
- Nearly $1 billion to go toward medical supplies, health-care preparedness, Community Health Centers and medical surge capacity, and
- $1.25 billion to address the coronavirus overseas.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other lawmakers hope to push the legislation through to Trump before the week’s end, stressing the urgency of securing funds to fight the virus.
Health officials have warned that the coronavirus is on the verge of becoming a pandemic, and a slew of new cases have been confirmed in the U.S. in recent days.
The disease, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province, has killed more than 3,200 people around the world and infected tens of thousands more, prompting wild market fluctuations and drastic government actions.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., had suggested that the Senate might opt to pass the bill by unanimous consent in order to speed up the process. But McConnell’s office confirmed to CNBC on Thursday morning that the Senate would hold a roll-call vote, requiring a 60-vote threshold for passage.
Paul, the only senator to vote against the bill, had put forward the only amendment to the legislation. Paul’s amendment sought to offset the costs of the coronavirus spending by cutting funding for certain international programs.
“I support our government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus,” Paul said in a statement earlier Thursday. “We also owe it to the American people to do it in a way that avoids piling billions more in debt on their backs.”
The Senate voted 80-16 to table — essentially, to kill — Paul’s amendment prior to voting on the spending bill itself.
Paul’s office did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the senator’s decision to vote against the emergency coronavirus funds.
The spending plan also allows an estimated $7 billion in low-interest Small Business Administration loans to affected small businesses, the aide told CNBC.
The House aide added that the emergency bill provides more than $300 million to “help ensure that, when a vaccine is developed, Americans can receive it regardless of their ability to pay.”
The question of affordability has reportedly been a sticking point in negotiations. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar came under fire last week after declining to guarantee to lawmakers that a vaccine would be affordable for all.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.