In a letter signed by 34 freshmen members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the bipartisan group called on leadership in the House and Senate to bring forward legislation to approve additional funding to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“Our communities deserve a rapid & well-equipped response to minimize the potential damage of COVID-19,” Congresswoman Cindy Axne said Saturday morning in a tweet. “I joined 34 of my freshman colleagues to demand House & Senate leadership bring up a comprehensive funding bill to help the front lines of this emerging public health threat.”
Our communities deserve a rapid & well-equipped response to minimize the potential damage of COVID-19.
I joined 34 of my freshman colleagues to demand House & Senate leadership bring up a comprehensive funding bill to help the front lines of this emerging public health threat. pic.twitter.com/a9315Std2r
— Rep. Cindy Axne (@RepCindyAxne) February 29, 2020
“It is imperative Congress act swiftly to provide additional funding to empower state and local governments on the front lines of this emerging public health emergency,” the letter states, pointing to the 80,000 infections and 3,000 deaths that have occurred worldwide.
As of Monday morning, 88 cases have been confirmed in the United States and two deaths in the Seattle area are linked to the infectious disease. This afternoon, it was reported that two people in Iowa are being tested.
The Trump Administration has asked Congress to approve a $1.25 billion spending package to test sick patients and ward against an outbreak, while also requesting authority to redirect an additional $1.25 billion from existing programs to put toward its efforts.
The House and Senate are considering a much larger appropriations bill, however, aiming between $4 billion and $8.5 billion, according to The Washington Post.
On Monday morning, Politico reported “lawmakers are coalescing around a figure of $7 billion” and the House likely will vote on the measure later this week.
According to a letter Pelosi sent to her House colleagues, “Any emergency funding supplemental the Congress approves must be entirely new funding, not stolen from other accounts,” Politico reported.
“This package must also ensure that the President cannot use these new funds for anything other than fighting coronavirus and infectious diseases. The supplemental must also ensure that vaccines are affordable and available to all who need them, that SBA loans are made available for small businesses impacted by the outbreak and that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to coronavirus outbreak.”
By Elizabeth Meyer