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               Researh Sevice

COVID-19: The Basics of Domestic Defense


Updated April 3, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, Congress has considered how the Department of Defense
(DOD) might support the U.S. government's domestic response. Below are the funding, authorities, and
descriptions of potential ways DOD might further contribute. Links in this product connect to more
detailed information on the highlighted subjects.
President Donald J. Trump declared a U.S. national emergency on March 13, 2020. On Friday, March 20,
the Federal Emergency Management Agency assumed the lead agency role in the Coronavirus Task Force
under the National Response Framework (NRF) for national emergencies. DOD participates in the
national response within the NRF. For more information on the domestic and international health aspects
of COVID- 19, see CRS Report R46219, Overview of U.S. Domestic Response to Coronavirus Disease
2019 (COVID-19), and CRS In Focus IF11421, COVID-19: Global Implications and Responses.

Defense Funding
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127) became law on March 18, 2020. Title II of
Division A of the act included $82 million for the Defense Health Program to waive all TRICARE cost-
sharing requirements related to COVID- 19.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L. 116-136) became law on
March 27, 2020. Title III of Division B of the act includes $10.5 billion in emergency funding for DOD.
Of the $10.5 billion, $4.9 billion (47%) is for the Defense Health Program (DHP), according to the bill
text. The DHP funding includes $1.8 billion for patient care and procurement of medical and protective
equipment; $1.6 billion to increase capacity in military treatment facilities; $1.1 billion for private-sector
care; and $415 million to develop vaccines and to procure diagnostic tests, according to a summary
released by the Senate Appropriations Committee. H.R. 748 also provides:
    * $2.5 billion for the defense industrial base, including $1.5 billion in defense working
       capital funds and $1 billion in Defense Production Act purchases;

                                                               Congressional Research Service

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