Republicans on Capitol Hill are growing more confident that the Trump administration is moving to support $25 billion in additional funding for Covid-19 testing and contact tracing in the states along with roughly $26 billion for therapeutics and vaccine development and distribution as part of the next stimulus package in response to the pandemic.
The White House had initially pushed back against Senate GOP requests to significantly ramp up funding for coronavirus contact tracing and testing, a posture that sparked vocal response from a number of Republican Senators at the start of the week.
But now, after days of negotiations, one Republican aide told CNN on Wednesday that they were growing more confident that the White House had realized they would not be able to win a fight about testing.
Republican senators have voiced opposition to a number of White House priorities as they work with the administration to craft their party’s opening bid before negotiations begin in earnest with Democrats, including over the issue of testing as well as President Donald Trump’s call for a payroll tax cut to be included in the stimulus.
The reaction from congressional Republicans comes as senators have seen the President’s approval rating decline and as they attempt to show the country that their party is capable of leading amid a pandemic that has devastated the American economy and created a public health crisis of historic proportions.
Republicans have yet to formally release a GOP legislative proposal for the next stimulus, but they are expected to do so soon. The exact timing may depend, however, on how quickly senators and administration officials are able to reach common ground.
About $20 billion of that $26 billion for finding a treatment would go to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for vaccine and therapeutic development and $6 billion would go to help distribute a vaccine, which would be coordinated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That would be the full amount of funding Republicans originally had pushed for before the White House attempted to reduce the money over the weekend.
While there is confidence this money will be added, there are no guarantees until the GOP unveils its proposal.
Top Republican committee chairmen, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to meet at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.