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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Senate yesterday passed its bill to fund the Department of Health and Human Services — the first time since 2007 that this bill has passed on its own in the Senate, rather than as part of a larger spending package. The vote was 85-7.

The big picture: The bill includes important funding measures like a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health and $3.7 billion in opioid spending.

The last-minute drama: Sen. Rand Paul's amendment to defund Planned Parenthood got a vote and failed, 45–48. Every Democrat voted against it.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin's amendment affirming the ACA's pre-existing conditions protections didn't get a vote, which he wasn't happy about. A vote could have pitted Senate Republicans against the Trump administration.

The details: A few notable amendments made it into the final bill.

  • Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin's amendment giving $1 million to HHS to implement the aforementioned rules requiring drug companies to include list prices in direct-to-consumer advertising. 
  • Sens. Bob Casey and Todd Young's bill giving $10 million to carry out the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, a response to the most recent Catholic church scandal.
  • Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio's $10 million demonstration program expanding school-based mental health services in low-income schools, a response to the Parkland school shooting.
  • Other vulnerable senators — including Sens. Claire McCaskill, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp — also got noncontroversial riders into the package. 

What we're watching: How this gets reconciled with the much more partisan House bill. 

— Correction: This article has been updated with the correct funding levels for the NIH and opioids.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Iran rejects nuclear talks with U.S., for now

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Iran/EU talks in 2015. Photo: Carlos Barria/POOL/AFP via Getty

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

Why it matters: The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran's response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran.

3 hours ago - Health

U.S. sets weekend records for daily COVID vaccinations

A driver waits to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Inglewood, California on Feb. 26. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just over 2.4 million coronavirus vaccinations were reported to the CDC on Sunday, matching Saturday's record-high for inoculations as seen in Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.

Why it matters: Vaccinations are ramping up again after widespread delays caused by historic winter storms. Over 75 million vaccine doses have been administered thus far, with 7.5% of the population fully vaccinated and 15% having received at least one dose.

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy: "We will lose" if we continue to idolize Trump

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday he does not believe that former President Trump will, or should, be the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

What he's saying: Cassidy pointed out that "over the last four years, [Republicans] lost the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency. That has not happened ... since Herbert Hoover."

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