“To this point, no agency has been inhibited in response efforts due to resources or authorities,” Russell Vought, the acting director at the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in the letter to lawmakers requesting the funds. “However, much is still unknown about the virus and the disease it causes.”
In total, Vought wrote, the administration expects “to allocate at least $2.5 billion in total resources” for the response effort. Much of that support would come from shifting funds already appropriated to other government agencies toward the effort.
Lawmakers said they were preparing for the administration’s request to reach Capitol Hill, even as the final numbers were still in flux in advance of the letter sent Monday evening.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, told reporters Monday that his staff had been in discussions with the White House about the looming request.
The news comes on the eve of a briefing Tuesday morning on the coronavirus for all senators in a classified setting, two sources with knowledge of the plans tell CNN.
Along with the $1.25 billion emergency funding request, the White House requested that an additional $535 million in emergency funding previously appropriated for the prevention and treatment of Ebola be redirected toward the effort to counter coronavirus.
“Tremendous progress has been made on Ebola and the current national response priority should be” coronavirus, the letter states, noting that “these two proposals would make $1.8 billion in new resources available for the current response.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the funding effort “long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency,” promising a House funding package that would better address the issue.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, expressed similar sentiments, calling the funding request “woefully insufficient” and bashing the administration for taking “weeks” to make it.
“It is profoundly disturbing that their answer now is to raid money Congress has designated for other critical public health priorities,” she said, adding that House Democrats would move to “enact a robust package that fully addresses this global emergency without allowing this administration to steal from other necessary programs.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, dismissed the request as “too little too late,” calling President Donald Trump’s move to repurpose Ebola funding “indicative of his towering incompetence and further proof that he and his administration aren’t taking the coronavirus crisis as seriously as they need to be.”
“We’ve seen no sign that President Trump has any plan or urgency to deal with the spread of the coronavirus — we need real leadership and we need it fast,” Schumer added.
Although the White House initially took a measured approach to handling the virus, administration officials earlier this month issued travel bans, quarantine orders and increased mandatory screenings as officials evaluated the growing threat posed by the illness.
Trump had downplayed concern about the contagion on Sunday as he departed the White House for India, claiming his administration has the virus “very much under control in this country.”
This story has been updated to add congressional Democrats’ reaction.
CNN’s Sarah Westwood and Manu Raju contributed to this report.