Sen. Menendez Statement on Passage of Coronavirus Emergency Funding Package

Sen. Menendez Statement on Passage of Coronavirus Emergency Funding Package

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today released the following statement after passage of a $7.8 billion bipartisan coronavirus emergency funding package. The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental now heads to the President for his signature:

“Thankfully, Congress pulled together this week to respond to the coronavirus with a robust and serious funding package that will provide the resources we need to address this expanding public health crisis here in the United States and across the globe.   

“Democrats and Republicans listened to the real health care experts and state and local governments on the front lines, and rejected President Trump’s woefully insufficient proposal which would have left the federal government paralyzed in the face of this emergency. 

“Importantly, our bill includes funding to reimburse state and local governments for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.  New Jersey has already devoted significant resources to implement a comprehensive prevention, protection and response strategy, and I’m especially pleased that the CDC has delivered nearly $2 million to reimburse these efforts – something I had been pushing for since Newark airport was designated weeks ago as a funneling site for travelers.    

“Our package includes funding for a full range of response needs that I have been calling for, including more than $3 billion for the research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics; more than $2 billion to help federal, state, and local governments prevent, prepare, and respond to the crisis; and nearly $1 billion to invest in health care preparedness, purchase critical pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and support community health centers.

“The American people deserve to be certain that their government is doing everything it can to protect them and I’m relieved we were able to get the Administration’s response back on track to deliver.”

Specifically, H.R. 6074, The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental, includes: 

Over $2 billion to help federal, state, local, and tribal governments prevent, prepare, and respond to the crisis, including:

  • Nearly $1 billion directly to state, local, and tribal governments to conduct public health preparedness and response activities, including:
    • Surveillance and monitoring;
    • Laboratory testing to identify new cases;
    • Tracing to identify additional positive cases;
    • Infection control at the local level to prevent new cases; and
    • Mitigation activities.
  • $300 million to replenish the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund.
  • $300 million to CDC for global disease detection and emergency response.
  • Reimbursement to state and local governments for costs incurred responding to coronavirus prior to the date of enactment of this bill.
  • Support for CDC’s continuing efforts to contain and combat this virus, including:
    • Repatriation and quarantine efforts;
    • Purchase and distribution of test kits (including to state and local public health agencies) and support for laboratory testing; and
    • Communicating with and informing public, state, local, and tribal governments, and healthcare institutions.

Over $3 billion for research, development, and review of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to help protect the health and safety of the American people, including:

  • More than $2 billion for the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA), prioritizing platform-based technologies with U.S-based manufacturing for vaccines and therapeutics.
  • $836 million for the National Institutes of Health to support this research, including $10 million for worker-based training to prevent and reduce exposure of hospital employees, emergency first responders, and other workers at risk through their work duties.
  • $300 million in contingency funding for procurement of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
  • $61 million for the Food and Drug Administration to review and approve vaccines, enhance emergency use authorizations, and advance continuous manufacturing.
  • The bill also includes the following to help vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics remain affordable:
    • Requires that vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics developed using taxpayer funds be available for purchase by the Federal government at a fair and reasonable price; and
    • Allows the HHS Secretary to ensure that vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics developed using taxpayer funds be affordable in the commercial market. 

Nearly $1 billion for healthcare preparedness, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and community health, including:

  • Approximately $500 million for procurement of pharmaceuticals, masks, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which can be distributed to state and local health agencies in areas with a shortage of medical supplies.
  • $100 million for Community Health Centers, supporting smaller health clinics in under-served urban and rural areas.
  • Funding for hospital preparedness, state and local pathogen treatment centers, and medical surge capacity to increase capacity at health facilities across the country. 

$1.25 billion to combat this public health threat overseas to prevent and respond to wider spread of the virus, including:

  • $264 million to maintain consular operations overseas, for emergency preparedness for our
  • embassies, and for evacuations of Americans if needed.
  • $435 million to enable overseas health systems to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the virus.
  • $300 million for humanitarian assistance in countries coping with the virus.
  • $250 million for the Economic Support Fund, including to address related economic, security,
  • and stabilization requirements.

Emergency telehealth waiver to support telehealth services

  • Allows the HHS Secretary to waive certain Medicare telehealth restrictions during the coronavirus public health emergency, allowing Medicare providers to furnish telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries regardless of whether the beneficiary is in a rural community, and allowing beneficiaries to receive care from physicians and other practitioners in their homes. This provision is estimated to cost $500 million.

Assistance for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak

  • $1 billion in loan subsidies that would provide $7 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Reimbursement of up to $136 million to important healthcare programs

  • The Trump Administration diverted money from critical healthcare programs, including for mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention, and heating and cooling assistance for low-income families (LIHEAP), to support its coronavirus response. This bill restores funds to those programs.

Senator Menendez has been out front since January, working to ensure New Jersey has the resources it needs to combat the coronavirus outbreak:

Today, Sen. Menendez urged employers to provide flexibility to their workers in the event of an outbreak.

Yesterday, he demanded HHS to take immediate action to address the many ways the Trump Administration’s health care sabotage has undermined our preparedness for and ability to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Sens. Menendez and Booker successfully pressed the CDC to step up passenger screenings for coronavirus at Newark Liberty International Airport, the nation’s fifth busiest, and called on the Trump Administration to appoint a global health security expert to the White House's National Security Council (NSC) to address and coordinate administration efforts in response to the coronavirus and other global health security threats. 

Last week, Sen. Menendez toured Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery of Innovation (CDI) lab in Nutley where researchers are developing coronavirus test that can return a result within two hours, and called for a greater federal response to the global outbreak.  He also joined Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09) in requesting information from the Food and Drug Administration on the federal government’s plan to preserve the medical supply chain in light of the outbreak.

Sen. Menendez has co-hosted two Senate briefings in recent weeks on the global coronavirus outbreak by high-level Trump Administration officials, in which he continued to press for additional resources for New Jersey, and joined State Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli, chair of the New Jersey Coronavirus Task Force, to discuss the latest efforts in response to the global outbreak and provide the public an update on the current situation in New Jersey.

Sen. Menendez also urged the Trump Administration to fully fund pandemic preparedness and response efforts in light of the global Coronavirus outbreak and warned that its annual proposed funding cut could threaten the government’s ability to effectively combat the spread of the deadly virus. The Trump Administration has repeatedly proposed dramatic cuts to programs and offices that spearhead efforts to respond to this and other pandemics, including a 2020 budget proposal that cut critical pandemic response programs by nearly 20 percent.

 

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