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Politics Senate relief package earmarks $10B for global coronavirus response

10:26  05 march  2021
10:26  05 march  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has earmarked $10 billion for the State Department and the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, part of the $1.9 trillion relief package that is up for a vote in the upper chamber Thursday.

a group of people wearing costumes: Senate relief package earmarks $10B for global coronavirus response © Getty Images Senate relief package earmarks $10B for global coronavirus response

The bulk of the money is directed toward aiding the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious and communicable diseases, with hundreds of millions of dollars more helping fund the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other global assistance funds through September 2022.

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This includes providing $8.675 billion for the global response to the pandemic.

Of this sum, $3.75 billion is being directed to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and $3.09 billion for international disaster relief, including reconstruction, health services and emergency food security needs.

Also included is $930 million addressing economic instability as a result of the virus and $905 million for USAID to "prevent, prepare and respond to coronavirus" and multilateral vaccine development partnerships.

The Biden administration has earlier committed $4 billion to COVAX, the United Nations global vaccine distribution fund. The U.S. is also in talks with partner nations to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries in an effort to push back against China's efforts to exert influence with its vaccine.

Much-Maligned Congressional Earmarks Are Coming Back

  Much-Maligned Congressional Earmarks Are Coming Back The Tea Party movement temporarily killed them — but only temporarily.The practice resulted in some notable scandals, including former California Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham and lobbyist Jack Abramoff going to jail for earmark-related bribes, and then there was the $223 million earmark for the “Bridge to Nowhere” to connect an 8,000-person Alaskan town to an airport.

Other big ticket items in the legislation include $500 million for humanitarian response, in particular for the cost of resettling refugees in the U.S.; and $580 million for multilateral assistance, in particular to the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan COVID-19.

Further, the legislation provides $204 million for the State Department for "necessary expenses" and $41 million for USAID to maintain operations and for expenses responding to COVID-19 domestically or internationally.

President Biden has identified engaging the U.S. on the global stage in response to the pandemic as a chief priority, part of efforts to engage allies and confront adversaries as part of his administration's national security and foreign policy strategy and reflected in the $1.9 trillion relief package.

Senate Democrats succeeded in bringing the legislation to the Senate floor on Thursday but a final vote on the bill faces an hours-long delay amid pushback from Republican lawmakers.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing Senate floor staff to read the entire 678-page bill in a process that is estimated to take up to 10 hours.

Following the reading of the bill, the Senate then has a 20-hour debate period. After that, senators will have an opportunity to propose votes on any amendment, further drawing out the legislation's final tally.

Takeaways from the COVID-19 stimulus bill passing Congress: Weeks of partisan fighting comes to an end with a win for Biden .
The two sides fought for months over the latest COVID stimulus bill. It ended Wednesday with a Democratic win. The bill now heads to Joe Biden's desk.The legislation, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, includes $1,400 stimulus checks, billions of dollars for vaccines, and money to reopen schools.

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