Earlier this week the Senate announced it will reconvene in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 4, 2020. The House may not return until May 11 at the earliest. It is unclear what legislation the Senate may take up when it returns. Last week, Congress passed a fourth legislative package responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill, now law, included almost $500 billion for small businesses and hospitals, as well as funding to ramp up testing. There is a chart below detailing how much emergency supplemental funding CDC, NIH, FDA, NSF, and AHRQ have received thus far to combat the pandemic.
Congressional leadership is assessing priorities for a fifth funding package. We sent a letter to leadership making the case for two funding priorities: 1) funding to ensure academic research can resume after the massive disruptions COVID-19 has engendered, and 2) equipping the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to assure our health care system emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger, more resilient, and better equipped for the next major health threat.
The FY2021 appropriations process is also ongoing, but remains fluid. We have heard that some appropriators want to move FY21 bills through the standard mark-up and floor debate process, while there have been rumblings in other corners about combining FY21 funding with the aforementioned next COVID-related supplemental rather than go the well-worn (and progress-stifling) continuing resolution route later this year. We sent a letter to appropriations leadership urging timely completion of the FY21 appropriations process and expressing support for modifying the FY21 budget caps to provide the flexibility needed to address COVID-19 and robustly fund ongoing scientific discovery focused on other health and societal threats.