The House on March 4, 2020, passed a bill (HR 6074) that would appropriate $8.3 billion for public-health initiatives to counter the spread of the coronavirus in the United States while helping the U.S. diplomatic community cope with the pandemic overseas. Republicans Andy Biggs of Arizona and Ken Buck of Colorado cast the votes against the bill.
In part, the bill would provide:
--Up to $4 billion for developing a vaccine and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and training caregivers.
--$2.2 billion for preparedness including the manufacture and delivery of test kits, ventilators and respirators.
--$950 million for additional state and local preparedness, and unspecified sums for building surge capacity at local hospitals and clinics including community health centers.
-- Seniors with guaranteed access to Medicare-funded telemedicine services.
-- Taxpayer-subsidized low-interest loans to help small businesses cope with economic losses resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.
Floor Debate, Pro & Con:
Fred Upton, R-Mich., said the emergency funding "is not only going to help our health officials on the front lines -- it is going to help our families in virtually every community. It is also going to help develop the vaccine and the therapeutics to save perhaps tens of thousands of lives."
Another supporter, Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said: "While the Trump administration has repeatedly demonstrated a failure to understand public health needs, Congress is acting with the seriousness and the sense of urgency the coronavirus threat demands."
No member spoke against the bill.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.