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 BluntSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal House Republicans introduce legislation to give states 0 million for elections 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 ShelbyWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire MORE (R-Ala.) and Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal MORE (R-Tenn.) met with White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet On The Money: Five takeaways from the July jobs report Overnight Health Care: Trump to take executive action after coronavirus talks collapse | Vaccine official says he'd resign if pressured politically MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet Overnight Health Care: Trump to take executive action after coronavirus talks collapse | Vaccine official says he'd resign if pressured politically Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal 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 RomneyFrom a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Tennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans NRCC poll finds McBath ahead of Handel in Georgia 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.