The Senate hopes to take up a funding measure to fight the spread of the new coronavirus within the next two weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Feb. 27.
“I have faith the [Appropriations] Committee will carefully consider the right sum to appropriate at this time to ensure our nations needs are fully funded,” he said, while speaking on the floor of the Senate in Washington. “I hope they can work expeditiously so the full Senate would be able to take up the legislation within the next two weeks.”
The White House submitted an emergency request for $2.5 billion to bolster efforts to prevent community spread of the virus in the United States. Congress grilled top health officials on Feb. 26 about the request and the nations preparedness for the possible spread of the virus. Some lawmakers said the funding request was inadequate and want additional funds committed to the efforts against the new virus.
President Donald Trump, speaking at a press conference on Feb. 26, said that the government might end up spending more than was requested.
“Some Republicans would like us to get $4 billion and some Democrats would like us to get $8.5 billion,” Trump said. “Well be satisfied whatever it is.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) outlined a proposal for $8.5 billion to fund the emergency response to the virus, which has 60 known cases in the United States so far, 45 of which are patients who were repatriated from Wuhan, China, or the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan.
McConnell criticized Schumer by saying bipartisan talks should have taken place before a proposal that differed from the administrations was made public.
“I feel confident that the coronavirus does not care about partisan bickering or political news cycles. This new disease is not going to press pause so that members can engage in performative outrage that gets us farther from results rather than closer,” he said.
McConnell says theres little doubt the virus will ultimately cause disruption in the United States, echoing warnings by federal health officials.
The Trump administrations early actions, including restricting travel to and from China, helped “blunt and delay the spread of the virus here in our country,” he said.