Cassidy proposes bipartisan Suppress COVID-19 Act

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Aug. 5 proposed bipartisan legislation that would grant states the authority to enter into interstate compacts or agreements to procure COVID-19 tests.

Sen. Cassidy sponsored the Suppress COVID-19 Act, S. 4458, with original cosponsors including U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tina Smith (D-MN), to appropriate $25 billion for states to purchase tests and testing supplies that would allow them to maximize efforts toward eliminating the spread of COVID-19.

“The Suppress COVID-19 Act uses market forces to increase testing capacity at a lower price per test,” Sen. Cassidy said last week. “This is part of a strategy to safely reopen schools, churches, and places of work. We must get our nation back to normal.”

S. 4458 also would authorize an additional $25 billion in funding to support testing administration, data modernization and other efforts that allow health officials to isolate outbreaks to more quickly reduce the spread of the virus, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Cassidy’s office that noted states would be required to meet certain criteria to receive these funds.

If enacted, S. 4458 also would not require states to use testing dollars in the context of regional agreements. However, those that do would be eligible for part of a $5 billion set-aside from the overall testing amount, according to the bill summary.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, there is no replacement for a federal strategy on testing,” Sen. Smith said. “This bill requires the federal government to develop a strategy to provide guidance to states while giving states the resources they need to implement a strong testing, tracing, and reopening strategy. Combined together, this will serve as a powerful approach to beating back this pandemic nationwide.”