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Trump Signs $8.3 Billion Coronavirus Funding Bill

President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence and members of his coronavirus task force for a news conference at the White House, February 26, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President Trump on Friday signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to combat the coronavirus as the number of cases of infected people in the U.S. passed 200 the day before.

The Trump administration originally requested only $2.5 billion to protect Americans against the virus, a number critics said was much too low. Democrats requested $8.5 billion in funding for coronavirus efforts, much closer to what Congress ended up passing and sending to Trump’s desk.

Also on Friday, the president canceled a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where he was initially scheduled to sign the funding bill. The White House said the trip was called off because the president “does not want to interfere” with ongoing operations to fight the virus there, but Trump suggested it was because of a case of coronavirus at the CDC itself that turned out to be negative.

“They had one person who was potentially infected,” Trump said. “It turned out negative, so we’ll see if we can do it.”

The CDC has come under fire by health professionals for its slow response to the virus, including the delayed dissemination of testing kits to states, and imposing guidelines that were too restrictive for who could be tested.

“We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward,” said Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump has tapped to lead the administration’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

As of Thursday night, 226 people in the U.S. had been infected with the virus, and 14 people had died after contracting it. The virus, a respiratory illness that originated in China, has spread to countries across the globe and has infected over 100,000 and killed over 3,200 people.

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