Next Week on the Hill: Coronavirus Package Signed Into Law

March 6, 2020

Following Senate passage of a $8.3 billion coronavirus response spending bill late yesterday, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law this morning. The measure combines new funding for treatments for the virus, public health agencies, and community preparedness with a waiver of restrictions on Medicare telehealth coverage during the outbreak. It also stipulates that vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics developed using funds authorized by the package must be made available to government purchasers for a “fair and reasonable” price, but does not go as far on pricing in the commercial market.

On the floor next week, Senators will push to wrap up work on a bipartisan package of energy-related legislation. A vote on final passage of the bill — which seeks to promote more innovation in clean energy technologies — will likely occur in the middle of next week after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) queued up a vote to end debate on Monday. In the House, lawmakers are expected to take up: (1) legislation that would limit the Trump administration’s authority to suspend or restrict immigration from predominantly Muslim countries; (2) a bill that would make certain that those held or detained while attempting to enter the U.S. are guaranteed access to legal counsel; and (3) a Senate-passed “War Powers” resolution that seeks to restrict President Trump’s ability to engage in military action against Iran absent Congressional approval.

Meanwhile, the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will continue next week as voters in six states — ID, MI, MS, MO, ND, and WA — will head to the polls. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will battle it out for the rest of the primary following the departures of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this week. With 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, Vice President Biden currently leads the field with 627 delegates following his strong “Super Tuesday” performance, followed by Sen. Sanders who sits at 551.