February 27, 2020

Whitehouse Calls for $8.5-Billion Emergency Appropriation to Protect Rhode Islanders from Coronavirus

Whitehouse backs Schumer request for robust funding to contain virus, prepare for possible outbreak

Washington, D.C. – With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging Americans to prepare for the potential of a “significant disruption” from the novel coronavirus, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is calling on Congress to swiftly approve an $8.5-billion emergency appropriation for robust efforts to protect Americans from the quickly spreading virus.  Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has released a detailed proposal for deploying the $8.5 billion in funding to fight the spread of coronavirus.

“I urge Congress to move quickly to get significant resources in place to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus,” said Whitehouse.  “In times like these, Americans rely on the capabilities of the people in charge of the federal government.  The Trump administration, which has stuffed high-level posts requiring technical expertise with unqualified political appointees and left many other important positions unfilled, has failed to act with the sense of the urgency or scope needed to prepare our health care system.  That leaves the burden on states to come up with plans of their own.  It is urgent that Congress step in to support their efforts and get accurate testing kits to the states.” 

With no plan to deal with the potential public and global health crisis related to the novel coronavirus, the Trump administration made an emergency supplemental appropriations request of $1.25 billion in new funding earlier this week.  For context, Congress appropriated more than $6 billion for the Pandemic Flu in 2006 and more than $7 billion for the H1N1 flu in 2009.  Many states and cities have been left to foot the bill.

Schumer’s supplemental request includes:

  • $1.5 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—including the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund (IDRRRF)
    CDC is at the front lines of America’s domestic and international response to the coronavirus.  This funding is needed to strengthen critical support to state and local health departments, bolster laboratory work, and more.  Other activities, like the evacuation of American citizens from China, deployment of CDC staff to states and ports of entry, and the purchase of protective and laboratory equipment and supplies, have been supported by the IDRRRF, depleting this fund.
  • $3 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund
    The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund helps drive our nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies.  These funds would ensure our Department of Health and Human Services has the resources need to do the job and help contain the spread of this new virus.
  • $2 billion set-aside for state and local reimbursement
    State and local health departments are on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.  Many cities have already spent millions on personnel, lab equipment, and supplies.  Additional expenditures are expected to include supplies for hospital triage and isolation spaces, as well as lab testing.  Additionally, there’s significant need for staff and other resources to support the public health and healthcare response, including implementing the federal quarantine order.  These activities require around-the-clock staffing, temporary housing, transportation, cleaning contracts, and wrap-around services.
  • $1 billion for the USAID Emerging Health Threats—Emergency Reserve Fund
    The global health community is actively fighting the dual threats of Ebola and coronavirus in the midst of a potentially severe influenza season.  This global response is a resource intensive effort.  The international effort, led by the United States, is severely underfunded.  The Emergency Reserve Fund allows USAID to respond to emerging health threats that pose acute risks to human health.
  • $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health—Vaccine Development
    For the preclinical and clinical development and testing of vaccines and other medical countermeasures for the coronavirus.



Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921