Senators on Monday announced a much-anticipated, bipartisan deal to fund $10 billion of COVID-19 aid for therapeutics, vaccines, and testing. The compromise package, less than half the Biden administration’s original $22.5 billion request from early March, came together after weeks of negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
The legislation is fully paid for, a key demand of Senate Republicans. But the bill omits funding for global vaccine efforts, the lack of which could jeopardize support among House Democrats.
With the compromise, the Senate could move on the legislation soon. Congress will enter a two-week recess beginning April 9, giving both chambers a deadline to pass this bill before adjourning.
House COVID-19 Relief for Small Businesses
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, April 5, the House Committee on Rules is scheduled to meet on a COVID-19 relief spending package that would provide $55 billion in aid targeted for small businesses. The majority of the bill’s new funding would target restaurants. It is unclear if the proposal has enough support among Democrats to pass.
Senate Finance Committee Releases Report on Mental Health
Last week, the Senate Committee on Finance released a bipartisan report that captures key findings from the committee’s examination of the country’s mental health care system. The report describes critical deficiencies in access to and the provision of mental health care, highlighting areas lawmakers might continue to explore as they seek to develop legislation. It also includes suggestions from stakeholders on how to address these issues; the association provided comments to the committee last fall on improving mental health care. Committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has previously indicated the committee intends to introduce mental and behavioral health legislation this summer.
Hearings of Note
On Tuesday, April 5, the Finance Committee will hold a hearing to examine President Joe Biden’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Also on Tuesday, the House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing to examine the proposed HHS budget. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will testify at both hearings on behalf of the administration.
On Tuesday, April 5, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a legislative hearing on mental health bills titled, “Communities in Need: Legislation to Support Mental Health and Well-Being.”