Lawmakers in Washington reached a bipartisan agreement Wednesday to provide $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to the funding bill and hope a final version of the measure clears Congress by the end of the week.
Final passage would be a bipartisan achievement that is now uncommon in Washington’s polarized political climate.
“When it comes to Americans’ health and safety, there is no reason to be penny-wise and pound-foolish," said Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, Republican Richard Shelby, said negotiators are nearing a final agreement and that passage of the measure this week “sends a message to the American people that we care and we are going to do everything we can.”
The measure would triple U.S. President Donald Trump’s $2.5 billion request to fund the government’s fight against COVID-19, which researchers say may have been spreading undetected for weeks in the Pacific Northwestern city of Seattle, Washington.
Officials in Washington state, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, reported Wednesday a total of nine coronavirus deaths, most in a nursing home in suburban Seattle.
Twenty-seven cases of the virus have been reported in the Seattle area, including a case at Amazon’s huge Seattle campus.
More than 100 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., including six cases in southwestern city of Los Angeles, where officials declared a local health emergency on Wednesday.
Four new cases were also confirmed in the northeastern city of New York, yet another indication the fast-spreading virus is likely to disrupt the daily routines of people in the U.S.