Politics & Policy

Warren Proposes Bill to Shift ‘Racist’ Wall Funding to Coronavirus Effort

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks to reporters as she exits the Trump impeachment trial in Washington. January 29, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) announced Thursday that she was introducing a bill to divert all funds appropriated by the Trump administration to fund a border wall in order to combat the coronavirus.

“The coronavirus outbreak poses serious health, diplomatic, and economic threats to the United States, and we must be prepared to confront it head-on,” Warren said in a release. “Rather than use taxpayer dollars to pay for a monument to hate and division, my bill will help ensure that the federal government has the resources it needs to adequately respond to this emergency.”

Warren wants the funding to go directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help fund the effort against coronavirus, and says that the move would generate an immediate $10 billion in funding.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it was siphoning $3.8 billion in Pentagon funds to fund border-wall construction, after already moving $6.7 billion from other government agencies and with another $7.2 billion planned for this fiscal year. Congress has approved about $4.2 billion for the border wall over the last three years.

The lead Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Marc Thornberry (R., Texas), then released a statement calling the appropriation of funds “contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority.”

“The wall should be funded, but the funding must come through the Department of Homeland Security rather than diverting critical military resources that are needed and in law,” Thornberry said, joining Democrats in condemnation of the decision.

It remains to be seen how much Congress will designate to use against coronavirus, with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday requesting $8.5 billion in emergency funding.

Trump, whose White House requested $2.5 billion in funding, signaled Wednesday he was open to additional funds from Congress. “If they want to do more, we’ll do more,” he told reporters.

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