Trump Wants To Block Funding For Virus Testing, CDC In Next Stimulus Package

Trump has called for the U.S. to scale back testing, going so far as to say during a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month that he told officials to slow down testing

Photo: Depositphotos.com/Wirestock

TOPLINE 

As Congress races to come together on a fifth coronavirus stimulus package with cases skyrocketing across the country, the Trump administration is actively working to block “billions of dollars” in federal funding for testing and the Centers for Disease Control, according to a new report from the Washington Post.

KEY FACTS

Congress is readying for a frantic push to come together on a fifth coronavirus stimulus package with just 11 days to act before lawmakers break for August recess and as the U.S. continues to break records for new daily cases. 

The Post reports that Trump administration officials are trying to persuade Senate Republicans to remove billions of dollars in funding for coronavirus testing and the CDC from a stimulus proposal GOP senators will release this week. 

The White House request has reportedly “angered” GOP senators, and some Republicans have pushed back, adamant the funding should stay in the bill.

The Post report comes as Trump continues to swipe at the CDC: on Friday, the president said he “doesn’t agree” with the CDC director Robert Redfield’s mask guidance and earlier, the Trump administration stripped the agency of control over coronavirus data and blocked Redfield from testifying to Congress on school reopenings. 

The Trump administration has sent mixed messages about its priorities for a fifth package, part of an “epic clash” occurring in the White House, Fox Business reported this week. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is pressing for another round of stimulus checks and even extending some variation of the $600 expanded unemployment program in a next bill, while other administration officials want to work around the edges with proposals like a payroll tax holiday. 

TANGENT

The Trump administration is also attempting to reduce funding in the GOP proposal for the State Department and the Pentagon to fight the pandemic, the Post reports.

KEY BACKGROUND

A lack of testing has beset the U.S. since the beginning of the virus outbreak. Now, the main problem appears to be a backlog at labs across the country. This week, the Washington Post reported that some testing sites are taking five to seven days to deliver results to patients.

NEWS PEG

Trump has called for the U.S. to scale back testing, going so far as to say during a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month that he told officials to slow down testing. He later said he said the comment in “jest,” but then said he doesn’t “kid.”

BIG NUMBER

$25 billion. The amount of money Senate Republicans want to include for testing and contact tracing, according to the Washington PostThe Post reports that some White House officials believe money approved for testing has been unspent (the coronavirus spending package passed in April included $25 billion for testing.)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The price tag of the next bill. Some Republicans and White House officials reportedly want to keep the price tag of a next bill under $1 trillion.

CHIEF CRITIC

"We have not heard a peep from McConnell or the Republicans or the administration on any proposal, even though we've been asking for weeks and weeks and weeks," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on a conference call Friday about the GOP stimulus bill, CNN reported.

SURPRISING FACT

Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney penned an op-ed in CNBC this week in which he argued the U.S. still has a “testing problem.” “Any stimulus should be directed at the root cause of our recession: dealing with Covid,” Mulvaney writes. “I know it isn’t popular to talk about in some Republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in this country.”

 
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