Pelosi, Schumer insist on guardrails for coronavirus funds

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said lawmakers are close to a bipartisan agreement on emergency funding for the coronavirus response, but Democrats are insisting on specific guardrails. 

In a joint statement, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they are insisting that any emergency funding supplemental must be entirely new funding, “not stolen from other accounts.”

Pelosi and Schumer said they want to ensure President Trump “cannot transfer these new funds to anything other than the coronavirus and fighting infectious diseases.”

The Democrats said they will insist on interest-free loans for small businesses affected by the outbreak, as well as ensure that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The administration has already begun transferring $136 million in funding from other health programs to pay for portions of the coronavirus response that need immediate attention, such as the production of masks for medical workers. 

That was met with resistance by Democrats, who were particularly upset by the $37 million in cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income Americans pay their utility bills.

The White House has suggested $2.5 billion to combat the coronavirus, while Schumer is requesting $8.5 billion. 

What number lawmakers will end up at as they negotiate on a supplemental bill remains unclear.

“We’re coming close to a bipartisan agreement as to how we can go forward with a number that is a good start,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. 

“We don’t know how much we will need,” Pelosi added. “Hopefully not so much more because prevention will work, but nonetheless we have to be ready to do what we need to do.”

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi
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