White House Seeks Coronavirus Funding

February 25, 2020

Late Monday the White House sent Congress an emergency funding request seeking $1.25 billion in new funds to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The short-term funding request also asks Congress to allow the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) to redirect $535 million in previously-appropriated Ebola funds, as well as flexibility to shift additional money within HHS and from other agencies for a total of $2.5 billion.

The White House says $1 billion would be directed toward development of a vaccine and also directs funds toward therapeutics and stockpiling of personal protective equipment. According to a letter from the Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought, "This funding would support all aspects of the U.S. response, including: public health preparedness and response efforts; public health surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory testing, and quarantining costs; advanced research and development of new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics; advanced manufacturing enhancements; and the Strategic National Stockpile. Funds would also be made available, as necessary, to affected states that are making contributions to the current national response."

Top Democrats called the White House's emergency request "too little too late." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the administration's request is "long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of the emergency."

HHS Secretary Alex Azar is on Capitol Hill this week appearing before several Committees regarding the fiscal year 2021 budget, and is expected to face scrutiny over the administration’s response plan for managing the coronavirus.