The U.S. House of Representatives rushed through an $8.3 billion spending measure to fight the coronavirus outbreak and passed the measure to the Senate, which is expected to approve it immediately.
The president has said he will sign it.
The measure allots $2.2 billion to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to contain the outbreak and $3 billion to develop treatments. About $1 billion will be spent in other countries to fight the epidemic, and $20 million has been set aside to cover additional administrative expenses needed in making loans to small businesses affected by the crisis.
House Republicans and Democrats bickered over the cost of distributing vaccines or treatments. Democrats wanted to guarantee that serums would be available to everyone regardless of cost; Republicans argued that capping prices might retard product development.
The two factions compromised and included $300 million for the government’s purchase of medicines for public release.
Legislators vowed more bipartisan action if the outbreak worsens. “Think of this as a down payment,” said Donna Shalala (D-Fl), who was a Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration.