U.S. House approves $8.3 billion in emergency coronavirus funding

A hand sanitizer dispenser is placed just outside the floor of the U.S. Senate chamber after concerns about the coronavirus, Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Caption
A hand sanitizer dispenser is placed just outside the floor of the U.S. Senate chamber after concerns about the coronavirus, Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: Alex Brandon

Credit: Alex Brandon

The U.S. House has approved an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the spread of coronavirus, including $2.2 billion to the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The House vote was nearly unanimous, 415-2. Two GOP members cast the dissenting votes; neither is from Georgia.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill on Thursday morning and President Donald Trump could sign it into law on the same day.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson praised House and Senate leaders for negotiating a package that has bipartisan support.

“I think the will is there for us to come together to do whatever else is necessary to address this public health emergency,” the Democrat from Lithonia said.

Of the $2.2 billion earmarked for the CDC, $950 million is for grants to state and local governments. Half of that must be distributed over the next 30 days, and no state will receive less than $4 million.

The CDC will also get $300 million to assist with the global response to coronavirus and another $300 million to replenish the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Fund.

The package also includes $3.1 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund and $836 million to the National Institutes of Health for research and vaccine development.

Vice President Mike Pence provided a coronavirus update to House Democrats and Republicans separately on Wednesday; he held similar briefings with U.S. senators on Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, said he walked away from the meeting satisfied with the government response, particularly when it comes to relaxing rules so that state laboratories can now perform necessary testing.

He also praised the pharmaceutical industry for working to develop tests, a vaccine and treatments rapidly.

“It goes to show the value of the innovation and research these companies do and the benefits to the American people,” Ferguson said.

» THE LATEST: Complete coverage of coronavirus in Georgia

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