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Billions in Emergency Outbreak Funds

The US House of Representatives has passed an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to address the COVID-19 outbreak, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the bipartisan bill includes $7.8 billion for agencies grappling with the virus. This, it notes, is more than what the Trump Administration requested. Last month, the Trump Administration asked for $2.5 billion in funding, a number that included $1.25 billion in new emergency funding as well as a transfer of $535 million from an Ebola preparedness account and funds from other Department of Health and Human Services programs.

The House bill, HR 6074, would give HHS $6.5 billion of which $2.2 billion is specifically for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $3.1 billion is for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, $836 million is for the National Institutes of Health, and $61 million is for the Food and Drug Administration. About half of the funds allotted to the CDC would be for state and local preparedness.

"I don't think this is the time to hesitate and wrangle over how to pay for something as acute to public health as this is," Representative Greg Walden (R- Ore.) tells the Times.

The bill passed in a 415-to-2 vote. The Times says the Senate is expected to pass the measure and that President Donald Trump has said he would "spend whatever is appropriate" combatting the outbreak.