Unused COVID Funds Recycled into New $10 Billion Deal – What It Covers for Average Americans

Row Covid-19 or Coronavirus vaccine flasks on white background.
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The U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan deal on Monday to provide $10 billion in additional COVID-19 funding that will be used to purchase therapeutics and vaccines and also prop up the country’s testing capacity in the event of another surge in cases.

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The money essentially repurposes unspent COVID funds, Reuters reported. And although it was applauded by lawmakers across the political aisle — including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — the dollar value is less than half of the $22.5 billion the Biden administration had sought.

Schumer also expressed disappointment that the bill does not include $5 billion in global health funding to spread vaccines around the world.

The proposed bill earmarks at least $5 billion to buy and develop COVID-19 treatments such as antiviral pills, CNBC reported. Another $750 million will go toward developing vaccines that target specific variants and expanding vaccine production capacity in the U.S. if needed.

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The bill must now get House approval before it can be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

She also said the White House will work with Congress to pass more aid, but that might be a tough sell. As Reuters noted, Senate Republicans demanded that any new requests for COVID funding be paid for by recycling existing money from prior COVID relief funds. Biden might have a hard time convincing them to approve new pandemic funding.

House Democrats in March sought to approve $15 billion in COVID funding, but Republicans insisted on repurposing funds that were already appropriated for state and local governments to cover any new spending. The bill moved to the Senate after the House failed to reach a bipartisan agreement.

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Under terms of the Senate bill, about $2.3 billion was cut from a COVID program to boost aviation manufacturing and repair businesses. It also eliminates nearly $2 billion in grant funding for shuttered venues such as live performance venues, museums and movie theaters.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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