President Donald Trump administration is preparing to ask Congress for an emergency funding package to battle the novel coronavirus, changing course as the global outbreak presents growing threats to the US.
The White House could send a request to Capitol Hill as soon as this week, according to three administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing deliberations.
But the administration remained undecided on Monday on the amount of funding it would request to counter the coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,400 globally and spread to at least 28 countries over the past three months. In the US, nearly three dozen coronavirus cases have been confirmed.
The White House Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services are jostling over the terms of the so-called budget supplemental, said a senior administration official with direct knowledge of the matter.
“This stuff is always messy,” the official said.
The White House press office and the HHS referred questions to the OMB, which did not offer comment Monday morning.
Congressional Democrats have pushed for the emergency funding request since early February, but the Trump administration had previously hesitated to pursue such a move. Speaking to Fox News on Monday, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley signaled the administration would move forward with the request but declined to offer details.
“I don’t have an announcement on the specific amount yet, but we need to combat this,” he said.
The shift came as financial markets dropped sharply after a weekend of escalating concerns about efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak and its potential effects on the world economy. The three major US averages were down roughly 3% early Monday.