Health Care

House poised to pass coronavirus relief bill: What you need to know today

Welcome to The Hill’s daily roundup of coronavirus news.

The U.S. death toll is closing in on 87,000 people, and cases are now on the rise in small rural counties that have already begun lifting restrictions. 

Beaches are opening in New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Connecticut in time for Memorial Day. There will be restrictions in place, but it remains to be seen how many people will abide by them, and how strict officials will be at enforcing them. 

Meanwhile, President Trump officially named the head of his “Operation Warp Speed” to develop a vaccine. Numerous federal officials have cautioned that a safe, widely available vaccine won’t be available until at least next year, if everything goes perfectly. Trump has said he thinks a vaccine will be ready in January. 

And in Congress, the House was poised to pass a coronavirus relief bill despite objections from progressives and some moderates. Senate Republicans have already rejected the legislation, but Democrats hope it will serve as a way to begin negotiations.

From the White House 

  • President Trump touted his administration’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, an extremely fast timetable, and formally announced Moncef Slaoui, a former pharmaceutical executive, to fill new a role overseeing the “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine effort. Morgan Chalfant reports.
  • The White House is adding new members to the coronavirus task force, including Labor Secretary Gene Scalia, NIH Director Francis Collins, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Get the rest of the story from Morgan 
  • Perdue said “No I don’t” when asked if he expects food shortages, though he noted challenges from closure of meat processing plants. Read more here
  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the administration still has confidence in an Abbott coronavirus test used at the White House despite a study showing that the nation may be missing nearly 50 percent of infections. Jessie Hellmann reports.

In Congress

  • Some House progressives will buck their party by voting against the $3 trillion response package because it fails to meet the scale of the crisis. Edward Moreno reports
  • A new bipartisan bill would provide $50 billion to help the smallest businesses affected by the coronavirus closures. Very small businesses have struggled to compete for aid against larger competitors. Mike Lillis reports.
  • Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) introduced legislation on Friday that would protect from lawsuits the meat processing plants mandated by President Trump to remain open. Alex Gangitano breaks down the bill 

In the states

  • The coronavirus pandemic is spreading out from urban centers and increasingly infecting residents in small rural counties. Reid Wilson has more 
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said gyms can open on Monday with social distancing. “Don’t we want people to be getting exercise?” he continued. “Don’t we want people to be getting in shape?” Julia Manchester reports
  • North Carolina saw its largest daily number of new coronavirus cases on Thursday with 743, bringing the Tar Heel State’s total to more than 16,500 as it continues with the first phase of its reopening plan. Marty Johnson has the full story
  • New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware have coordinated and will all open beaches Memorial Day weekend with some restrictions, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced. Read more from J. Edward Moreno
  • The airport in Las Vegas announced that it would sell protective equipment in vending machines in a bid to try to keep travelers safe. Kaelan Deese reports.


Tags Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Ron DeSantis Sonny Perdue Vicky Hartzler

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