Donald Trump complained in February when Democrats criticized his initial $2.5 billion request as inadequate.
"I urge the Senate and House to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing," he tweeted Tuesday after bipartisan agreement was reached in the Senate on a fourth coronavirus response bill.
On Tuesday, the request for $484 billion passed the Senate on a voice vote. A House vote is expected on Thursday.
Combined with the three previously approved spending bills — the $8.3 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the $192 billion Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the roughly $1.8 trillion CARES Act — the latest legislation would put the total appropriations for public health and economic stabilization at about $2.5 trillion.
And Trump said Tuesday even that won't be enough. He promised to push for another spending bill soon to provide "fiscal relief to State/Local Governments for lost revenues from COVID 19, much needed Infrastructure Investments for Bridges, Tunnels, Broadband, Tax Incentives for Restaurants, Entertainment, Sports, and Payroll Tax Cuts to increase Economic Growth."
But less than two months ago, Trump ridiculed Democrats for suggesting solving the pandemic might cost more than $2.5 billion.
Back in February, Trump was still dismissing the coronavirus as "very much under control." On Feb. 24, the administration asked Congress for that amount as a supplemental appropriation "to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much needed equipment and supplies."
A source told Fox News at the time that the administration had moved carefully "not to sound alarm bells," but said the appropriation was "better to have, certainly with finite funds."
Democrats noted that the amount the administration had requested was nowhere near enough to address the crisis. Rep. Nita Lowey, the House Appropriations chair, called it "woefully insufficient to protect Americans from the deadly coronavirus outbreak."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer panned it as "indicative of [Trump's] towering incompetence."
Trump responded by tweeting, "Cryin' Chuck Schumer is complaining, for publicity purposes only, that I should be asking for more money than $2.5 Billion to prepare for Coronavirus. If I asked for more he would say it is too much."
During a Feb. 27 African American History Month reception, Trump complained about the criticism.
"I got criticized because I said '$2.5 billion. That's a lot of money.' See, $2.5 billion is a lot of money. And the Democrats said, 'How dare he only ask for $2.5 billion?' But this never happened to me before," he said. "My people came, 'This is what we need: $2.5 billion.' And I said, 'That's a lot. That's a lot of money.'
"So what happens is, Schumer says, 'He needs $8.5 [billion].'" Trump continued. "I said, 'I'll take it if you want to give it to me.' I thought, you know, I'll ask for a lot, and if I get a piece ... So I they criticized me because they say '$2.5 billion, he needs more.' What they should do is say, 'Why does he need so much?' But they don't say that because they have inverse thinking."
Congress approved a larger appropriation, which Trump signed in early March. "We're signing the $8.3 billion. I asked for $2.5 and I got $8.3, and I'll take it," he said. "We're doing well, but it's an unforeseen problem."
To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 776,000 COVID-19 cases in the United States and at least 41,758 deaths.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.