White House preparing to request emergency funding for coronavirus response

Feb. 24 (UPI) — The White House is preparing to request emergency funding from Congress to combat the spread of the coronavirus, a spokesman said Monday.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News that President Donald Trump is preparing an urgent budget request to address the virus known as COVID-19, but declined to say how much funding would be requested.

“We need some funding here to make sure that we protect all Americans,” said Gidley. “We need to combat this, we need to make sure our people are safe and the president is always going to take action to do that.”

The Trump administration has said it could draw from a $ 105 million rapid response fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other accounts to fund coronavirus response, while the Health and Human Services Department said about $ 136 million could be transferred from other federal programs.

The CDC said that there were 53 cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of Monday as the number of cases increased when infected passengers were brought back to the country from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Reps. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said they had urged the administration weeks ago to submit an emergency supplemental funding request.

“Since then, new cases and deaths around the world have significantly worsened and we have still not received crucial information as to what funding [Health and Human Services] has allocated to emergency response activities or how quickly they expect funding.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien are leading a task force on coronavirus response.

Azar will appear before several House committees this week to answer questions about his budget after saying he “won’t let resources be any kind of barrier to response activities.”

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