WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced today that the House and Senate have reached a bipartisan agreement on an $8.3 billion package of emergency funding to help contain and fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Merkley, as the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), worked with his counterparts to write Title I of the bill, including emergency authorizations and $61 million in new funding for FDA to help protect Americans from this emerging public health threat. He also pushed strongly to secure more funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), small business disaster loans, reimbursements for state and local government expenses incurred fighting the coronavirus, and support for tribal governments—all of which are included in the package.
“Americans and Oregonians deserve a federal government that is doing everything we can to protect our communities from the coronavirus,” Merkley said. “While the CDC and public health professionals are working hard to meet this challenge, the administration’s overall response has been disorganized and dangerously inadequate. Today, Congress is coming together on a bipartisan basis to bring the resources and urgency we need to tackle this crisis. I will continue doing everything I can to keep Oregonians safe and informed, and I will be pushing to pass this bill and get it signed into law without delay.”
Last Thursday, Merkley launched a coronavirus resource page for Oregonians, which includes information on risk of exposure, prevention and treatment, and steps that he is taking to push the federal government to respond effectively and with urgency. That resource, which is being updated regularly, can be found at www.merkley.senate.gov/coronavirus.
“I’d like to thank Senator Merkley, as well as Senator Wyden and Oregon’s congressional delegation, for displaying unhesitating leadership in bringing together this bipartisan agreement to protect the health and safety of our families and communities across the state,” said Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown. “In the face of this global health crisis, this emergency funding package will provide additional support to our health professionals as they address the immediate concerns of identifying, treating, and containing novel coronavirus cases in Oregon, and will put us on the path for the long-term containment of this disease.”
“As we watch this virus spread, the leadership of Senator Merkley is crucial and we thank him. The mask shortage is impacting healthcare workers even this moment as they are not fully protected from the speared of the virus,” said Adrienne Enghouse, RN and President of the Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals (OFNHP) Local 5071. “This bill is a template for all potential epidemics now and in the future.
"We need all elements of this bill put into place immediately to ensure front line workers and our communities are safe.”
“Healthcare workers are on the frontlines fighting COVID-19. Ensuring that they are adequately protected is a critical step to prevent the spread of the disease.
"If we can’t protect our healthcare workforce then we can’t protect our patients.
"I thank Sen. Jeff Merkley for his efforts to ensure our members have the resources they need in the COVID-19 emergency spending bill,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents 170,000 healthcare professionals. “The federal government must do everything possible to protect the health of Americans and to ensure that healthcare personnel—who are key to that effort—are trained, protected and have the resources they need to do their jobs: caring for our communities.”
The funding and authorizations that Merkley secured for FDA in today’s package will help FDA fight the spread and severity of the coronavirus in numerous ways, including:
Now that the funding package has been agreed upon by both House and Senate negotiators, it is expected to receive a vote on the floor of both the House and Senate in the coming days. Once it has been passed by both houses of Congress, it will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.