Congress eyes $6 billion to $8 billion to combat coronavirus

Congress eyes $6 billion to $8 billion to combat coronavirus
© Greg Nash
Lawmakers are discussing a spending package that would provide between $6 billion to $8 billion to combat the coronavirus, a source familiar with the talks confirmed to The Hill. 
 
The zeroing in on the higher spending range comes as negotiators want to finalize a deal by early next week, which would allow for the spending package to go to the House floor for a vote shortly thereafter. 
 
Congress has approximately 10 working days before it is set to leave for a weeklong recess, giving lawmakers a tight timeframe if they are going to finalize a deal, get it passed by both chambers and get it to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDefense industrial base workers belong at home during this public health crisis Maduro pushes back on DOJ charges, calls Trump 'racist cowboy' House leaders hope to vote Friday on coronavirus stimulus MORE's desk before leaving town. 
 
The spending levels under discussion are double to triple the initial $2.5 billion requested by the White House. That request included $1.25 billion in new funding. The rest would be taken from existing health programs, including $535 million from fighting Ebola.
 
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCoronavirus bill includes more than billion in SNAP funding White House billion emergency request balloons to 2 billion in Senate coronavirus stimulus talks Five sticking points to a T coronavirus deal MORE (R-Ala.) indicated on Thursday that the final figure would be "much higher" than the $2.5 billion initially requested by the White House. 
 
He also indicated that it would be more than $4 billion but that they were "not interested" in going as high as the $8.5 billion, an amount initially requested by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCOVID-19, Bill Barr and the American authoritarian tradition Cuomo calls T stimulus 'reckless,' says it fails to meet New York's needs Government oil purchase in jeopardy without stimulus funding MORE (D-N.Y.). 
 
"We want to make sure if this stuff really spreads that we're doing our job," Shelby said.  
 
Shelby, House Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse Democrats unveil coronavirus economic response package Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Trump, Congress struggle for economic deal under coronavirus threat MORE (D-N.Y.) and their staffs have been working behind the scenes to try to get a deal on combating the disease.
  
The source familiar with the talks added that while the range discussed was between $6 billion and $8 billion, negotiators are looking at the higher end of that range.
 
The bill, according to Shelby, is being drafted to include a "clawback" option if the agencies ended up not needing the money, as well providing agencies with flexibility on spending the funds. 
 
 
Trump said during a press conference on Wednesday that he would largely defer the final figure to lawmakers. 
 
"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.