House Democrats' $3trn coronavirus relief package has funding boost to fight wildlife-borne diseases

The proposal would allocate $21m to US Fish and Wildlife Service in part for law enforcement inspections of species likely to cause harm


Louise Boyle
New York
Thursday 14 May 2020 18:39 BST
Nancy Pelosi calls Trump a 'weak leader' over coronavirus response

The $3trn relief package proposed by House Democrats in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic includes tens of millions of dollars to fight wildlife-borne diseases.

Listed among "other matters" in the Heroes Act proposal released this week, the "Wildlife-Borne Disease Prevention Act of 2020" aims to provide "measures to address species that pose a risk to human health" in consultation with agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and the US Geological Survey.

The package includes $21m for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to complete development on an electronic permitting system and provide for law enforcement inspections of wildlife species likely to cause harm.

It also allows for assistance to foreign countries "to end the trade of wildlife that poses a risk to humans because of transmission of pathogens that cause disease".

An additional $50m is allocated for ‘‘State and Tribal Wildlife Grants’’. The package also includes $40m for the US Geological Survey for "bio-surveillance of wildlife" and researching diseases.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to 294,046 deaths globally and more than 4.2m confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organisation.

The coronavirus jumped from an animal to a human, known as "zoonotic spillover", although scientists remain conflicted over its source. ​

The sweeping plan, which runs to 1,815 pages, contains nearly $1trn for state, local and tribal governments and territories, a boost to unemployment benefits and another cash injection of $1,200 to American families.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Associated Press: “The American people are worth it."

The $3trn bill in additional federal spending is on top the $2.2trn stimulus bill that was passed in March.

Democratic leaders signalled that the House will approve the measure on Friday. Senate Republicans have already rejected the measures saying they are too large and President Trump declared it "dead on arrival".

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