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Senate GOP and White House strike deal on $16 billion for coronavirus testing

Senate GOP and White House strike deal on $16 billion for coronavirus testing
© Bonnie Cash

The White House and a key group of Senate GOP negotiators struck a deal on Wednesday for new coronavirus testing funds.

The forthcoming proposal, text of which is expected to be released Thursday, will provide $16 billion in new funding for coronavirus testing, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate GOP attorneys general group in turmoil after Jan. 6 Trump rally Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE (R-Mo.), one of the negotiators, told reporters.

In addition to the new funds, another $9 billion from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March will be designated for testing.

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"We'll have $16 billion in a line tomorrow, and $9 billion that previously was not as clearly designated that they already had will now be clearly designated as testing, so the total testing money will be $25 billion," Blunt told reporters.

The announcement came after Blunt, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Top Senate Democrat announces return of earmarks Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE (R-Ala.) and Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE (R-Tenn.) met with White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Stephen Miller launching group to challenge Democrats' policies through lawsuits A year with the coronavirus: How we got here MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE to try to finalize an agreement on their part of the coronavirus negotiations.

Senate Republicans had initially wanted $25 billion in new testing funding, sparking pushback from the White House. Asked earlier this week about new testing money, Meadows appeared dismissive.

"How would they even know what funding for testing is?" he said Monday on his way into a meeting with the same group of negotiators.

Senate Republicans view more testing money as a top priority at a time when coronavirus cases across the country are climbing. The United States is approaching 4 million confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, which put the number of cases at 3,941,741 on Wednesday evening.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal MORE (R-Utah), speaking with reporters earlier, appeared critical of the administration's handling of the virus.

"I just feel it's taken us a long, long, long time to get to a point where we have rapid testing, which we don't have yet; ample testing, which we don't have; personal protective equipment that's still in short supply in certain places," he said.