White House Wants Money, Quickly, for Outbreak

Schumer contends administration has no plan for stopping coronavirus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2020 7:11 PM CST
Outbreak Fight Needs Money, White House Says
A airport agent assists international travelers Monday at SeaTac International Airport in SeaTac, Washington.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The White House is readying an urgent budget request to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak, whose rapid spread is spooking financial markets and restricting international travel. The request is still being developed but is likely to come this week, a senior administration official confirmed Monday, the AP reports. The Department of Health and Human Services has already tapped into an emergency infectious disease rapid response fund and is seeking to transfer more than $130 million from other HHS accounts to combat the virus. But it's pressing for more. "We need some funding here to make sure that we protect all Americans," Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said on Fox News.

Senators returning from recess will receive a classified briefing Tuesday on the government's response, a Senate aide said. "We are staring down a potential pandemic and the administration has no plan," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who blasted a shortage of kits to test for the virus and President Trump's proposed budget cuts to health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trump was a vocal critic of former President Barack Obama's response to the 2014 Ebola scare, which barely touched the US but was seen as a factor in that year's midterm elections, which restored control of the Senate to Republicans. Trump defended his record Monday on Twitter. "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!" the president tweeted.

(More coronavirus stories.)

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