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White House eyes additional cash for Pentagon, Homeland Security as virus outbreak widens

White House eyes additional cash for Pentagon, Homeland Security as virus outbreak widens

Homeland Security could get a funding boost due to a White House request to bolster certain federal agencies to combat the coronavirus outbreak. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

By CAITLIN EMMA[1]

03/15/2020 09:03 PM EDT

Updated: 03/15/2020 10:32 PM EDT

The White House budget office will send Congress another funding request that would potentially bolster the Pentagon, the VA and Homeland Security as federal agencies work to contain the coronavirus outbreak, an administration official told POLITICO on Sunday night.

The Office of Management and Budget plans to ask Congress for the funds sometime mid-week, said the official, who could not provide a dollar estimate or detail specific agency needs, citing the early nature of the discussions. The official did note that the request will focus on meeting the operational needs of agencies on the front lines of the response.

Additional funding for the Department of Health and Human Services was largely addressed in an emergency $8.3 billion bill passed by Congress earlier this month, the official said. The Trump administration had initially asked for just $2.5 billion, only half of which would have stemmed from new funding.

The request comes as congressional leaders are already eyeing a third economic stimulus package to help prop up a flailing economy and support a struggling workforce amid the rapidly spreading pandemic. The House passed a second package early Saturday morning that would provide paid leave for affected workers, about $1 billion in food assistance and widespread testing for the virus at no cost to patients. The Senate is expected to act as soon as Monday.

Hundreds of National Guard members have already been mobilized as they respond to the crisis. In an op-ed today[2], New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also called on the administration to further tap the military to help localize testing, federalize shutdowns and expand hospital capacity.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who served as the White House’s chief negotiator for the bill that now awaits Senate action, compared the multiphase legislative response to a baseball game. “The first inning was the $8 billion. This is the second inning,” Mnuchin said. “We have a lot more we need to do with Congress. And the speaker and I have acknowledged it. We’ll be working starting immediately.”

As of Sunday afternoon, there were nearly 3,000 confirmed cases of infections reported in the U.S., resulting in 57 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The CDC on Sunday night recommended canceling or postponing all events nationwide[3] with more than 50 people — the most aggressive federal guidance issued yet amid the worsening outbreak.

The virus has already shuttered schools, businesses, offices, sports seasons, cruises and public events for the next several weeks as states look to minimize infection and preserve hospital capacity.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, further warned on NBC’s “Meet the Press“ Sunday morning[4] that Americans, many of whom still flooded bars and restaurants this weekend, should prepare “to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.”

Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ CAITLIN EMMA (www.politico.com)
  2. ^ In an op-ed today (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ recommended canceling or postponing all events nationwide (subscriber.politicopro.com)
  4. ^ further warned on NBC’s “Meet the Press“ Sunday morning (www.politico.com)