Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Thursday unveiled legislation that would fund the United States’ efforts to blunt the spread of the deadly coronavirus using money dedicated to President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, which the presidential candidate described as “racist.”
Warren’s plan presupposes that the $1.25 billion in additional funding requested by the White House to combat the illness is insufficient.
“The coronavirus outbreak poses serious health, diplomatic, and economic threats to the United States, and we must be prepared to confront it head-on,” she said. “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.”
Coronavirus poses a serious health, diplomatic, & economic threat, & we must be prepared to confront it head-on. So I’m introducing a bill to transfer all funding for @realDonaldTrump's racist border wall to @HHSGov & @USAID to combat coronavirus. https://t.co/8IEhBWRjeL pic.twitter.com/9oAF0A2lGT
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 27, 2020
Warren’s proposal bill states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any unobligated Federal funds appropriated or otherwise made available to plan, develop or construct a physical barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico shall be immediately transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Agency for International Development for the express purpose of combating coronavirus disease (COVID-19).”
In total, President Trump has secured over $3 billion to build the border wall through congressional channels and declared a national emergency and other means to transfer roughly $7 billion more to find the security barrier.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said this week that he will ask for $8.5 billion to fight the possible spread of the virus.
“We started out by looking at certain things, we’ve been working with the Hill very, very carefully, very strongly and I think that we have very good bipartisan spirt for money,” President Trump said during a Wednesday press conference where he tapped Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S.’s efforts in combating the illness. “We were asking for $2.5 billion and we think that is a lot. But the Democrats — and I guess Senator Schumer — want us to have more than that.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Thursday that congressional leaders are closing in on a bipartisan agreement for the funds.
“Lives are at stake — this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics,” Pelosi said. “The first step the Congress must take is to ensure the government has the resources needed to combat this deadly virus and keep Americans safe.”