Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, is expected to formally request the funding Wednesday.
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But Schumer’s request sets up a fight with President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier this week requested $2.5 billion and only $1.25 billion of it is new funding.
The request from the minority leader comes as fears of the coronavirus and concerns over the US’ ability to adequately respond to it continue to rise. On Tuesday, one of the top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that health experts foresee the disease that has killed thousands spreading in the United States.
Since returning from recess, Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern the administration may not be fully equipped to handle a potential outbreak in the United States, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling the White House’s funding effort “long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency,” and Republican Sen. John Kennedy pressing the acting Homeland Security secretary over the current level of preparation to deal with its spread during a tense hearing on Tuesday.
Schumer had dismissed the White House’s funding request as “too little, too late,” calling Trump’s move to repurpose funding previously appropriated for the prevention and treatment of Ebola “indicative of his towering incompetence and further proof that he and his administration aren’t taking the coronavirus crisis as seriously as they need to be.”
“We’ve seen no sign that President Trump has any plan or urgency to deal with the spread of the coronavirus — we need real leadership and we need it fast,” Schumer added.
The US now has 35 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. More than a dozen Americans who tested positive for the disease returned to the US this week after spending weeks in isolation on the luxury cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in Japan.
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.