Warren introduces bill to redirect wall money to coronavirus
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on Thursday to redirect border wall funding to combating the coronavirus.
The bill, according to Warren’s office, would result in approximately $10 billion being shifted from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“Rather than use taxpayer dollars to pay for a monument to hate and division, my bill will help ensure that the federal government has the resources it needs to adequately respond to this emergency,” the 2020 Democratic hopeful said in a statement.
The White House has suggested $2.5 billion to combat the coronavirus, while Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is requesting $8.5 billion.
What number lawmakers will end up at as they negotiate on a supplemental bill remains unclear.
“The United States government must do more to address the spread of the deadly coronavirus in a smart, strategic, and serious way and we stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion in Congress and with the administration to achieve this necessary goal,” Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Thursday in a joint statement.
“Lives are at stake — this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics,” they added.
Top Republicans — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) — have also indicated that they want a higher number than the initial White House offer.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) characterized the White House figure as an “initial request.”
“It’s our job to ensure that funding is not a limiting factor as public health leaders and front-line medical professionals continue getting ready,” he said.
The haggling over funding comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday announced the first case of coronavirus in the United States with an “unknown” origin.
President Trump, meanwhile, has announced that Vice President Pence will oversee the government’s effort to combat the coronavirus.
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