The Trump administration is trying to block billions of dollars for states to conduct testing and contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill, Washington Post reported citing people familiar with the talks. The administration is also trying to block billions of dollars that GOP senators want to allocate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and billions more for the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic at home and abroad, the people said, reported Washington Post.
According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, the number of coronavirus cases in the US has risen to 38,25,153 while the number of deaths has gone past 1,37,000. The report cited officials as saying the administrations’ posture has angered some GOP senators and some lawmakers are trying to push back and ensure that the money stays in the bill.
The negotiations center around a bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is preparing to unveil this coming week as part of negotiations with Democrats. This will likely be the last major coronavirus relief bill before the November election.
The differences between Trump administration officials and Senate Republicans on money for testing and other priorities is creating a major complication even before bipartisan negotiations get underway even as two political parties are far apart on a number of contentious issues. According to a person involved in the talks, while Senate Republicans were seeking to allocate $25 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing, certain administration officials want to zero out testing and tracing the money.
The US President has often questioned the value of conducting widespread coronavirus testing. As per the Washington Post report, the administration is also seeking to “zero out $10 billion in new funding for the CDC in the upcoming bill, while slashing spending for the Pentagon and State Department related to foreign aid.”