Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations
On Wednesday, March 4, 2020, I joined my House colleagues in voting to pass H.R. 6074 to provide $8.3 billion in emergency supplemental funding for the U.S. response to coronavirus. This funding includes:
- More than $4 billion to make diagnostic tests more broadly available; to support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected with the virus; and to invest in vaccine development and to procure vaccines when they are available. Funds are also made available for the Food and Drug Administration to protect the integrity of medical products manufactured overseas and identify and prevent potential shortages.
- $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a robust response, including:
- Nearly $1 billion exclusively for state and local response efforts; and
$300 million for CDC’s Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund to prevent, prepare for and respond to diseases – keeping our nation prepared and positioned for any health threat.
- $20 million to administer disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by the virus.
- $1.25 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to protect Americans abroad and prevent the spread of the virus worldwide, including:
- $264 million to evacuate Americans and maintain consular operations overseas; and $200 million for USAID’s Emergency Response Fund to prepare for and respond to emerging health threats – working to prevent the spread of illness and infection before it reaches U.S. soil.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
I also voted with my House colleagues to pass H.R. 6201 on March 14, 2020. This bill further responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.
Specifically, the bill provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nutrition and food assistance programs, including
- the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
- the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); and
- nutrition assistance grants for U.S. territories.
The bill also provides FY2020 appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for nutrition programs that assist the elderly.
The supplemental appropriations provided by the bill are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.
The bill modifies USDA food assistance and nutrition programs to
- allow certain waivers to requirements for the school meal programs,
- suspend the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program), and
- allow states to request waivers to provide certain emergency SNAP benefits.
In addition, the bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers.
The bill also includes provisions that
- establish a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak,
- expand unemployment benefits and provide grants to states for processing and paying claims,
- require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees,
- establish requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers,
- treat personal respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures that are eligible for certain liability protections, and
- temporarily increase the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).