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House Passes $8 Billion Emergency Funding Bill to Combat Coronavirus

House Passes $8 Billion Emergency Funding Bill to Combat Coronavirus

The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan funding bill to battle the coronavirus on Wednesday, NBC News reports.

The House approved the bill in a 415-2 vote to provide $7.8 billion for the response effort. The only lawmakers who voted against the bill were Arizona Republican Andy Biggs and Colorado Republican Ken Buck.

The bill includes provisions requiring the funds to be used only to combat the coronavirus and other viruses after Democrats expressed concern that President Trump might divert the money for other purposes.

The bill would provide more than $2 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more than $3 billion to the public health emergency fund and the National Institutes of Health to develop vaccines, treatments, and tests for the coronavirus. The bill also includes $1.3 billion to help Americans living abroad.

Both sides like bill:

The bill, which provided nearly $5 billion more in funding than sought by the Trump administration, was hailed by both parties.

"This should not be about politics. This is about doing our job to protect the American people from a potential pandemic," said Alabama Republican Richard Shelby, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We worked together to craft an aggressive and comprehensive response that provides the resources the experts say they need to combat this crisis. I thank my colleagues for their cooperation and appreciate President Trump's eagerness to sign this legislation and get the funding out the door without delay."

"The legislation ensures that the federal government will only pay a fair and reasonable price for coronavirus vaccines and drugs and provides HHS the authority to ensure that they are affordable in the commercial market," a Democratic aide told NBC News.

Details:

Along with funding for federal health agencies, the bill also includes $300 million to respond to humanitarian needs and provides about $7 billion in low-interest loans to small businesses affected by the outbreak.

The bill also allocates over $300 million to ensure that any future vaccine is accessible to every American regardless of their ability to pay. Medicare beneficiaries will also be allowed to use their benefits to remotely access their doctors.