President Asks for $2.5 Billion To Fight Novel Coronavirus in U.S.
Feb. 25, 2020 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump sent Congress an urgent $2.5 billion request yesterday, to fund a U.S. plan to address the novel coronavirus, spreading worldwide rapidly. There are now 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects there will be “community” spread of the virus at some point soon.
White House Budget Office spokeswoman Rachel Semmel told press,
“Today the administration is transmitting to Congress a $2.5 billon supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness, and response activities, and to procure much-needed equipment and supplies. We are also freeing up existing resources and allowing for greater flexibilities for response activities.”
The President’s request was released in the evening of Feb. 24, and came as key government accounts were running low; the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had already drawn on an emergency disease rapid response fund, and was attempting to transfer more than $130 million from other HHS accounts to fight the virus, while pressing for more.
The administration is requesting $1.25 billion in new funding, and attempting to transfer $535 million more from an Ebola preparedness account that has been a top priority of Democrats, Andrew Taylor of Associated Press reported. The request also anticipates shifting money from other HHS accounts and other agencies to complete the $2.5 billion response plan.
Senators received a classified briefing this morning on the government’s coronavirus response. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) spokeswoman said the panel will take the administration’s “input into account as we continue to do our due diligence to determine what additional resources are necessary.”
Democrats reported said the request was insufficient, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) growling: “All of the warning lights are flashing bright red. We are staring down a potential pandemic and the administration has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to coordinate a response.”