03.04.20

Senate Floor Statement On The Emergency Coronoavirus Supplemental Request

Chairman Shelby and I are pleased to announce that we have reached a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on an emergency supplemental to address the spread of the novel coronavirus and protect the health and safety of the American people.  I want to thank my friend, Chairman Shelby, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger for their cooperation in reaching this agreement.  As so often happens in the Appropriations Committee, we left our labels at the door.  We worked together, both Republicans and Democrats, and I urge both the Majority Leader and the Democratic Leader to move as quickly as possible once the House acts today to get this agreement to the President’s desk. 

What the House of Representatives is debating today is vastly different from the $1.25 billion, poorly thought out and grossly inadequate proposal from the Trump Administration sent to Congress just nine days ago.  Where President Trump’s proposal would rob Peter to pay Paul, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from funds meant to contain an ongoing Ebola crisis and programs the American people rely on like the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), our agreement provides $7.8 billion in new, emergency funding to address this crisis without raiding those important programs. Importantly, the agreement also includes a $500 million authorization to enhance the availability of telehealth services.  

We reject President Trump’s extreme “America First” mantra that would include nothing for USAID to help contain the spread abroad.  At a time when communicable diseases are only an airplane flight away, that is a recipe for failure.  Instead, we provide $1.25 billion in new resources for the global health response, provide humanitarian assistance, and secure funding for emergency evacuations of U.S. citizens, if needed. 

We provide $2.2 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus.  These funds will support laboratory testing and monitoring, infection control, and public health preparedness.   

Our agreement will provide more than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to prevent or treat the effects of coronavirus.  Importantly, this bill includes provisions to ensure that vaccines developed with the support of federal dollars remain affordable to those most in need.  And we provide nearly $1 billion for healthcare preparedness, the procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and funding to support community health centers, which provide healthcare to so many in our underserved urban and rural communities.   

We provide $61 million to the Food and Drug Administration to facilitate the development of new therapies and vaccines to combat coronavirus and mitigate potential medical supply chain interruptions.   And importantly, this agreement includes $7 billion in small business disaster loans to help mitigate the economic impact of the spread of coronavirus in the United States. 

As we confront this widening crisis, it is important to remember that we are not Republicans or Democrats seeking to score political points in addressing this threat.  We are Americans.  We are United States Senators.  At times of crisis in our nation’s history, the Senate has proven its ability to be the conscience of the nation and the steady guiding hand. 

I am pleased that the House measure does not include legislation related to extending FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  Such controversial legislation has no place on urgent funding legislation to combat the coronavirus. 

I am confident that we can once again put aside partisan squabbles and help to lead our nation forward.  Taking up this agreement as soon as possible is the first step.  I look forward to working with Chairman Shelby to shepherd this bipartisan, bicameral agreement through the Senate and to the President. 

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