President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Monday night, Feb. 24, that it will ask Congress for at least $2.5 billion in a supplemental budget to fight the viral coronavirus, but Democratic lawmakers described it as insufficient and even calling his request “towering incompetence.”

Under the proposal, the administration is asking for just $1.25 billion in new funding, and the rest is taken from untouched money of existing health programs, including $535 million from fighting Ebola. 

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), at least $1 billion would go toward vaccine development, and the other funds toward stockpiling protective equipment like masks.

“The Trump administration continues to take the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease very seriously,” OMB spokeswoman Rachel Semmel said, The Hill reported.

“Today, the administration is transmitting to Congress a $2.5 billion supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much needed equipment and supplies,” she said.

OMB Director Russell Vought also wrote in a letter, “The administration is working aggressively to minimize the risk of the virus spreading in the United States.”

However, Democrats quickly rejected the request. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said the Trump administration’s request is “woefully insufficient to protect Americans from the deadly coronavirus outbreak.”

“Despite urgent warnings from Congress and the public health community, the Trump administration took weeks to request these emergency funds,” Lowey said in a statement, referring to Democrats’ calls for additional funding weeks ago.

“It is profoundly disturbing that their answer now is to raid money Congress has designated for other critical public health priorities. Worse still, their overall request still falls short of what is needed for an effective, comprehensive government-wide response,” she added.

“House Democrats will move quickly to enact a robust package that fully addresses this global emergency without allowing this administration to steal from other necessary programs,” Lowey continued.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) went farther, calling the Trump administration’s request “indicative of his towering incompetence.”

Earlier in the day, Schumer said on the Senate floor, “We are staring down a potential pandemic, and the administration has no plan. We have a crisis of coronavirus, and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts, or how to coordinate a response.”

President Trump pushed back, saying in a tweet on Monday, “The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries.”

According to Johns Hopkins University, the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world surpassed 80,000 as of Tuesday morning, Feb. 25, with 2,705 deaths. The United States reported 54 infected cases.

In another tweet on Tuesday, the president wrote, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer is complaining, for publicity purposes only, that I should be asking for more money than $2.5 Billion to prepare for Coronavirus. If I asked for more he would say it is too much. He didn’t like my early travel closings. I was right. He is incompetent!”

Includes reporting from Politico, The Hill.

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