New York Sen. Chuck Schumer requested $8.5 billion in federal emergency aid Wednesday to combat the burgeoning coronavirus epidemic, blasting President Trump’s far more modest request as “dangerous.”
Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said Trump’s $2.5 billion proposal does not even begin to address the severity of the coronavirus and charged his administration’s lackadaisical response to the rapidly spreading disease has put Americans at risk.
“It was incompetent and dangerous,” Schumer tweeted. “You reduced our ability to prevent epidemics ... You just trusted other governments (like China) to handle this. You can spin this any way you want, but it’s incompetence."
Schumer’s proposed package includes $1.5 billion in beefed up funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $3 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, $2 billion in emergency response reimbursements for state and city governments, $1 billion for vaccine development at the National Institutes of Health and $1 billion in reserves for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
RELATED: Take a look at the coronavirus outbreak across the world:
The New York Democrat noted his request is modeled after past health emergency appropriations, including the $6 billion earmarked for the Pandemic Flu in 2006 and the $7 billion for the swine flu in 2009.
Schumer’s proposal could set up a partisan clash in Congress.
However, some Republicans, including Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, may be on board with Schumer’s plan, have expressed unease about the Trump administration’s coronavirus response in light of 59 Americans now being diagnosed with the fatal respiratory illness that originated in China.
Meanwhile, in the House, a Democratic leadership aide said party brass are still trying to digest Trump’s plan.
“Given that we have received virtually no information from the Trump administration, we are still assessing what amount of funding is needed,” the aide told the Daily News.
Trump, who’s planning to address the nation at 6 p.m. Wednesday after a briefing with federal health officials, has asked for $2.5 billion in coronavirus funding, only $1.25 billion of which is new spending, with the rest being ripped from existing federal health programs.
The president has accused Democrats of politicizing the illness and claimed in a tweet early Wednesday that his administration is “doing a great job.”
“USA in great shape!” Trump tweeted.
Still, the president appears concerned by the past few day’s coronavirus-related stock market plunges, which undermine his reelection pitch.
“Fake News ... are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets,” Trump tweeted, misspelling the name of the illness.