TRUMP and his team are allegedly trying to block $25billion allocated for coronavirus testing and tracing.
Administration officials are arguing with Republican senators over the next GOP stimulus bill that is set to be unveiled this week.
At issue is money that would go to states to test and trace, as well as billions that would go to the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic at home and abroad.
One person involved in the talks told the Washington Post that Senate Republicans were seeking to allocate $25 billion for states, but that certain administration officials want that number to be zero.
Sources involved in the talks have told the Post that the administration’s position has angered some Republican senators who want more money for the bill.
Some White House officials reportedly argue that billions for states in the last round of stimulus has yet to be spent.
Trump has publicly blasted testing and tracing as he believes that “with smaller testing we would show fewer cases!”
Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!
He has made relatively limited comments on the virus as cases soar, instead choosing to focus his tweets more on Joe Biden, defunding the police, and “the radical left” over the past week.
He has also been embroiled in a rift over the course of the week with top diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci.
The stimulus bill, which is McConnell’s answer to the Democrat led House’s $3trillion package proposal, is likely to be the last coronavirus stimulus package put up before the November election.
The US is seeing unprecedented daily COVID-19 cases, with up to 70 thousand Americans testing positive daily over the last week.
Today, the death toll stands at more than 140,000 in the U.S., with 3.7 million-plus confirmed cases.
The death toll is starting to go up again too, which is a grim indicator of harder times ahead.
Businesses, schools and entire communities are closing across the country due to outbreaks, causing unemployment to soar as federal emergency aid is rapidly running out.
Experts predict an even more dire public health outlook for winter. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, says the U.S. needs to “regroup.”
Lawmakers return to Washington on Monday to try to stem the relentless damage to health and the US economy being caused by the virus.
Without a successful federal plan to control the outbreak, the new wave of cases and deaths has left Congress no choice but to engineer another expensive bailout.
“It’s not going to magically disappear” said a somber McConnell during a visit to a hospital in his home state of Kentucky to thank front-line workers.
As McConnell prepares to roll out his $1 trillion-plus proposal, he acknowledges it will not have full support.
Already the White House is suggesting changes, Republicans are divided and broader disagreements with Democrats could derail the whole effort.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, already pushed through a more sweeping $3 trillion relief bill to bolster virus testing, keep aid flowing and set new health and workplace standards for reopening schools, shops and workplaces.
“Time is running out.” Pelosi said.
Pelosi’s bill, approved in May, includes $75 billion for testing and tracing to try to get a handle on the virus spread, funnels $100 billion to schools to safely reopen and sends $1 trillion to cash-strapped states that are pleading for federal dollars to pay essential workers and prevent layoffs.
The measure would give cash stipends to Americans, and bolster rental and mortgage and other safety net protections.
McConnell hit “pause” after the passage of the last aid package as Republicans hoped the economy would rebound and stem the need for more assistance.
He now acknowledges additional intervention is needed.
His bill centers on a five-year liability shield to prevent what he calls an ‘epidemic of lawsuits’ against businesses, schools and health care providers.
The bill is expected to provide up to $75 billion for schools, another round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans and grants to child care providers. There is likely to be tax credits to help companies shoulder the cost of safely reopening shops, offices and other businesses.
Unlike the other virus aid pacakges that passed almost unanimously, McConnell says this one will be more difficult to approve.
In the two months since Pelosi’s bill passed, the U.S. had 50,000 more deaths and 2 million more infections.
“If we don’t invest the money now, it will be much worse,” Pelosi said.
Since March the virus has smashed cities, which have now got things better controlled.
However, it has since spread and is now wreaking havoc across the country, particularly in states that chose to open early, burning through the South, West and beyond without restraint.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this past week that if everyone wore a mask, it could help “drive this epidemic to the ground.”
The first round of aid runs out at the end of the month.
A federal $600-a-week boost to regular unemployment benefits expires at the end of the month. So, too, does the federal ban on evictions on millions of rental units.
With 17 straight weeks of unemployment claims topping 1 million – five times the normal rate, many households are facing a cash crunch and losing employer-backed health insurance coverage.