President Donald Trump's administration has requested the Congress to release $2.5 billion in funding to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, the Associated Press reported Monday.
The White House said late Monday that the funding would be used for the research efforts to develop a vaccine against the virus and to purchase treatment and preventative equipment and supplies.
At least 53 cases have been confirmed in the United States by press time according to Johns Hopkins University data, as global tally crosses above 80,000.
"Today, the Administration is transmitting to Congress a $2.5 billion supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much needed equipment and supplies," White House budget office spokeswoman Rachel Semmel said, according to the Associated Press.
"We are also freeing up existing resources and allowing for greater flexibilities for response activities."
The Trump administration has only requested $1.25 billion in new funding, meaning that the other half needs to be diverted from existing programs, including $535 million from an Ebola preparedness fund.
Leading Democratic Congresspersons, including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, criticized the move.
"We have a crisis of coronavirus and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to coordinate a response," Schumer said, according to the Associated Press.
"The President's request for coronavirus response funding is long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency," Pelosi said in a statement earlier.
"The President's most recent budget called for slashing funding for the Centers for Disease Control, which is on the frontlines of this emergency. And now, he is compounding our vulnerabilities by seeking to ransack funds still needed to keep Ebola in check."
Trump defended the government's response to the outbreak in a tweet on Monday.
"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," Trump tweeted. "Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"
Photo Credit: Public domain photo via Wikimedia.
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