© Bonnie Cash
Lawmakers are moving quickly to try to pass emergency coronavirus funding before a mid-March break, with negotiators eyeing finalizing an agreement by early next week.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCrypto debate set to return in force Press: Why is Mo Brooks still in the House? Eshoo urges Pelosi to amend infrastructure bill's 'problematic' crypto regulation language MORE (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs MORE (D-N.Y.) are negotiating an emergency spending package.
Shelby told reporters the spending package will provide a "much higher" figure than the $2.5 billion requested by the Trump administration, predicting the final deal will be more than $4 billion.
"We want to make sure if this stuff really spreads that we're doing our job," Shelby said.
Shelby added that the bill would have a "clawback" option if the agencies ended up not needing the money. He added that he thinks they will be to a "point of moving" a final agreement by the start of next week.
Lawmakers and their staff have been racing behind the scenes this week to try to come up with a package to combat the coronavirus that could easily pass both chambers.
Meanwhile, the stock market has plummeted this week amid fears of a coronavirus epidemic within the United States.
If Congress is going to pass the coronavirus funding before a mid-March recess, it has approximately 10 working days to finalize the legislation, get it passed in both the House and Senate and then put it on Trump's desk for the president's signature.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Top Democrats tout California recall with an eye toward 2022 Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that he hoped the House could take up a coronavirus package next week.
"I'm hopeful that we can get this done next week. This isn't something to wait around. ... And I will give credit to the appropriators who have been sitting in the room, making it happen," McCarthy said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet Hassan launches first ad of reelection bid focusing on veterans' issues MORE (R-Ky.), meanwhile, said he wants the Senate to pass the bill before the break when lawmakers will leave by March 13 for a week-long recess.
President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE and Democrats have proposed vastly different amounts for coronavirus funding.
The White House initially requested $2.5 billion: $1.25 billion in new funding and the rest taken from existing health programs, including $535 million from fighting Ebola.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (D-N.Y.) meanwhile requested $8.5 billion in all new funding.
He and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party MORE (D-Calif.) released a handful of requirements for a coronavirus funding deal, including that vaccines be "affordable and available to all that need it" and that Trump cannot transfer the money to fund anything other than the coronavirus and infectious diseases.
Shelby acknowledged that his final deal with Lowey would go above the White House request but that "we're not interested in going that high," referring to Schumer's figure.
Helping leave the door open for negotiations, Trump largely deferred the final figure to lawmakers during a press conference on Wednesday.
"Congress is talking to us about funding, and we're getting far more than what we asked for. And, I guess, the best thing to do is take it. We'll take it," he said.