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 BluntThere is a bipartisan path forward on election and voter protections These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Swalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down 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 ShelbyThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Negotiators report progress toward 2022 spending deal Johnson, Thune signal GOP's rising confidence MORE (R-Ala.) and Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (R-Tenn.) met with White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAre the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? Jan. 6 probe roils Cheney race in Wyoming House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinConservatives are outraged that Sarah Bloom Raskin actually believes in capitalism Suspect in Khashoggi murder arrested The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules 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 RomneyOfficer who directed rioters away from senators says Jan. 6 could have been a 'bloodbath' Ukraine's 'Back to the Future' scenario: Deploying troops is a Cold War solution Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law 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.