The slimmed-down compromise drops all funding to help nations abroad — especially poorer ones — combat the pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader and chief Democratic bargainer Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the pact would provide “the tools we need” to help the U.S. recover from the economic blows COVID-19 has inflicted for the past two years, but noted that the $10 billion “is well short of what is needed to keep us safe” over time.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the lead GOP bargainer, said the $10 billion funding was crucial for addressing “urgent COVID needs” and “will not cost the American people a single additional dollar.”
The measure is fully paid for by pulling back unspent funds from previous pandemic relief bills that have been enacted, bargainers have said.
According to Romney’s fact sheet, those savings include more than $2 billion from a fund protecting aviation manufacturing jobs; nearly $2 billion from money for helping entertainment venues shuttered by the pandemic; another $1.9 billion from a program that helps states extend credit to small businesses; and $1.6 billion from agriculture assistance programs.
Romney said he was open to discussing more funding for the U.S. global vaccination program in the weeks ahead.
At least half the compromise would have to be used to research and produce therapeutics to treat the disease, according to fact sheets from Schumer and Romney.
The money would also be used to buy vaccines and tests. At least $750 million would be used to research new COVID-19 variants and to expand vaccine production, the descriptions said.
Leaders of both parties were negotiating for a $15 billion version of the bill last month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., abandoned that plan after Democratic lawmakers rejected proposed cuts in state pandemic aid to help pay for the package.
The agreement will need to attract at least 10 GOP votes to move through the 50-50 Senate. Those votes are expected to be there. Lawmakers hope to get the bill cleared this week before leaving for a two-week spring recess.
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