US lawmakers reach $10billion deal for Covid funding – less than half of what Joe Biden requested

The US Senate reached a deal for pandemic funding that has long been requested by the White House (Pictures: Reuters/ AP)

The US Senate agreed on a $10 billion deal on another round of emergency pandemic funding that was requested by the White House.

Negotiators, while able secure a smaller-than-anticipated Covid-19 package, were unable to agree on global aid and dropped it from the agreement entirely. News of the deal was shared Monday by Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitt Romney.

‘This $10 billion COVID package will give the federal government – and our citizens – the tools we need to continue our economic recovery, keep schools open and keep American families safe,’ Schumer said in a statement.

The money will be allocated to domestic needs for vaccines, tests and drug treatment, and comes after the White House repeatedly warned it would need additional funding for those things.

The approved funding is also less than half of the $22.5 billion the Biden administration had requested Congress approve.

‘This obviously does not meet all of those dire needs in this country,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Monday.

About $5 billion in international aid to combat the spread of the virus abroad was also cut from the deal, which Psaki noted was something the administration would continue to lobby for.

While the funding falls short, Psaki urged Congress to pass the $10 billion quickly.

‘Every dollar we requested is essential and we will continue to work with Congress to get all of the funding we need. But time is of the essence,’ Psaki said. ‘We urge Congress to move promptly on this $10 billion package because it can begin to fund the most immediate needs, as we currently run the risk of not having some critical tools like treatments and tests starting in May and June.’

Schumer said that Congress would pursue a second supplemental funding bill later this spring in order to provide international funding. That bill would likely be linked to additional aid for Ukraine, the New York Democrat said.

He also said that he was ‘disappointed’ that Republicans could not agree to the $5 billion in global health funding.

‘The international funding is something I feel is very important and will work to include in separate legislation,’ Schumer said.

The Majority Leader added that the consequences of the US falling behind on pandemic funding was ‘scary.’

‘The rest of the world is racing to buy up the supply of these treatments and these therapeutics, and if the US falls behind because of a lack of funding, vulnerable Americans, and our whole country, will pay the price.’

Some House members warned last week that they would not support a package that did not include the funding for global pandemic response.

The smaller package was sorely needed after lawmakers excluded pandemic funding from a recent $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill.

With the latest coronavirus variant on the rise, President Joe Biden continues to advocate for additional Covid-19 funding. On Wednesday, the President said his administration already had to cancel planned orders of monoclonal antibodies due to the lack of funding.

‘This isn’t partisan; it’s medicine,’ Biden said on Wednesday while receiving his second Covid-19 booster shot.

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