Pelosi Aims for House Coronavirus Supplemental Funding Vote This Week

February 29, 2020 Updated: March 1, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she hopes to bring an emergency funding supplemental package to the House floor this week in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to House members on Feb. 28, Pelosi offered condolences to the family of the Washington state man who has been confirmed as the first person to die from the novel coronavirus in the United States.

“An important step that Congress must take is to ensure the government has the resources needed to combat this deadly virus and keep Americans safe,” she said.

“To that end, House appropriators are working to advance a strong emergency funding supplemental package that fully addresses the scale and seriousness of this public health crisis, which we hope to bring to the Floor next week.”

Pelosi indicated that the House’s funding proposal will seek “entirely new” funding—not funding reallocated from other accounts.

Pelosi has emphasized that Congress needs to make sure that vaccines are affordable and available to all those in need, and that Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are readily available for small businesses affected by the outbreak. She added that any bill should ensure that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs they incur when assisting the federal response to the outbreak.

The White House sent a request for $2.5 billion emergency supplemental funding to Congress on Feb. 24. The Trump administration asked for about $1.25 billion in new funding, and for the rest to be reallocated from funds already budgeted by Congress, such as for Ebola preparedness, The Epoch Times reported.

Pelosi made the statement after Washington state announced the country’s first fatality from the virus—a man in his late 50s with underlying health conditions.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed during a White House press conference Feb. 28 that the man had no history of travel to other affected countries and no known contacts with infected individuals.

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump speaks as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci (L), U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (2L), and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield (R) look on during a press conference on the COVID-19 outbreak at the White House in Washington on Feb. 29, 2020. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

The death came after patients in Washington, Oregon, and California tested positive for the new disease without a history of exposure to known sources of infection, officials in those states said.

“This is a case of community spread of the disease, much like the case from California earlier this week,” Pat Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, told reporters Feb. 28 about the first case in Oregon.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that seniors or patients with underlying conditions are the most likely to be affected by the virus.

“For the most part, the people who get in trouble and ultimately, tragically, would die from this are people who are elderly and/or have underlying conditions: heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity—because of the difficulty in breathing,” he said.

The total number of COVID-19 infections in the United States was at 74 as of March 1, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University. Most of the cases were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who returned to the United States after the ship was quarantined in Japan.

Italy, Iran, and South Korea have reported spikes in the number of cases in recent days, with travelers from those countries becoming some of the first patients in a number of nations, including as far away as Brazil and New Zealand.

The White House expanded travel restrictions from Iran on Feb. 29, barring entry to foreign nationals who have recently visited the Middle Eastern nation.

Meanwhile, the State Department urged Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Italy and South Korea, while issuing the highest ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel’ advisories for Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions and South Korea’s Daegu, due to local outbreaks of the virus.

Ivan Pentchoukov and Zachary Stieber from The Epoch Times contributed to the report.