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Pelosi, Schumer ask Trump to fly flags at half-staff when US reaches 100,000 coronavirus deaths

The top Democrats in Congress are calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE to order that flags be flown at half-staff at all public buildings on the day the U.S. reaches 100,000 deaths caused by the novel coronavirus. 

In a letter sent to the president on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiObama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Collins urges voters to turn out in Georgia runoffs Protect America's houses of worship in year-end appropriations package MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote that the tribute would serve as a "national expression of grief so needed by everyone."

The letter also has a political implication, as Democrats have ripped the president for a slow response to the coronavirus that they say has raised the U.S. death toll. Trump has argued there would have been even more deaths in the U.S. without his actions, while seeking to put blame for the outbreak on China and the World Health Organization. 

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The U.S. could see its total number of coronavirus deaths pass the milestone soon.

As of Thursday afternoon, the U.S. had recorded more than 93,800 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The U.S. had reported more than 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

"Our hearts are broken over this great loss and our prayers are with their families," Pelosi and Schumer wrote. "Respectful of them and the loss to our country, we are writing to request that you order flags to be flown at half staff on all public buildings in our country on the sad day of reckoning when we reach 100,000 deaths."

The president reserves the right to order that flags be flown at half-staff for tragic events and the deaths of notable officials. Trump ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff as a "mark of solemn respect" for the victims of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in August. 

The request from Pelosi and Schumer comes as the lawmakers have consistently criticized Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Pelosi and Trump have not spoken in months despite the pandemic and this week were hurling insults at one another. 

Pelosi called Trump "morbidly obese" while criticizing his decision to take hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that the president has touted as a potential "game-changer" in the fight to address the coronavirus despite a lack of scientific support for the conclusion. 

Trump responded by calling Pelosi a "sick woman” and a “waste of time.”