- The Trump administration is seeking to cut funding to boost coronavirus testing from a new relief bill, reported The Washington Post.
- The White House is also reportedly seeking to exclude funding for measures to fight the pandemic at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pentagon, and the State Department.
- Trump has falsely claimed that increased testing is why infection rates are rising in the US, but public health experts say testing is measuring a real increase in cases.
The Trump administration is seeking to remove $25 billion in funding for coronavirus testing from a new Republican bill, The Washington Post reported.
According to the report citing sources close to negotiations over the bill, the White House is also seeking to change the bill to remove $10 billion funding for initiatives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pentagon and the State Department to battle the pandemic.
The new bill designed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will provide billions in relief funds for struggling businesses as the coronavirus continues to sweep through states in the south and west.
The US has been the country most severely impacted by the pandemic. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that 70,000 new cases are being recorded per day and the disease has killed 140,000 people.
“Cases and deaths are now both rising again, including in many red states,” Sam Hammond, a policy expert at the right-leaning think tank the Niskanen Center, told the Post. “Senate Republicans have asked for funding to help states purchase test kits in bulk. As it currently stands, the main bottleneck to a big ramp-up in testing is less technical than the White House’s own intransigence.”
Cases declined for several weeks amid widespread lockdown measures, but have spiked again in several states where, according to Dr Anthony Fauci of the White House’s coronavirus task force, the lockdown was lifted prematurely.
But President Trump has refused to accept that cases are continuing to climb, insisting that the rise in new cases is the result of extra testing being carried out by authorities.
The White House has also been sharply critical of the CDC’s performance. According to the Washington Post, it also believes some of the billions previously earmarked for track and testing remain unspent.
Public health officials say that the data is tracking a real increase in the number of cases in the community, and that the only way to monitor and effectively fight the pandemic is through widespread testing.
Trump told a rally in June that he had ordered fewer tests to be conducted, as he continues to push for the economy to gear up again ahead of November’s presidential election.
In a statement to the Post, Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign criticized the bid to cut testing funds as cases continue to climb.
“Donald Trump is turning his back on his most important responsibility to the American people because, in the words of his own advisers, he ‘doesn’t want to be distracted by’ the worst public health crisis in 100 years,” said Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates.