Trump Wants to Stop Funding for Contact Tracing, Testing

Money is included in Senate GOP legislation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2020 11:40 AM CDT
Administration Fights Spending for Contact Tracing, Testing
Heather Griggs, a registered nurse and operations chief of the Umatilla County Public Health Department contact tracing center in Pendleton, Oregon, updates a list of job assignments Tuesday on Tuesday. Contact tracers there work out of a converted jail to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.   (AP Photo/Ben Lonergan)

Senate Republicans have a plan to send billions to states for contact tracing and billions more to the CDC, State Department and Pentagon for other efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some of the money would be used to prepare to distribute a vaccine, once one is ready, the New York Times reports. But the Trump administration is having none of it—or little of it, negotiators said. In some places, people who take coronavirus tests have to wait a week for the results, but White House officials argue that part of the billions already allocated for testing hasn't been spent yet, per the Washington Post. Some in the administration want to cut all the money for tracing and testing from the legislation that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to offer this week.

A think tanks expert working with the GOP is among the frustrated. "Senate Republicans have asked for funding to help states purchase test kits in bulk," he said. "As it currently stands, the main bottleneck to a big ramp-up in testing is less technical than the White House's own intransigence." Additional funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has hit a wall. The Defense Department allocation included covering costs such as reimbursing contractors for employees' paid leave related to the pandemic. The administration is trying to keep expenses less clearly related to the coronavirus, by having the measure include money for a new FBI building. (More coronavirus stories.)

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