The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that a “battle has broken out between the White House and Democrats over how much money to allocate to the crisis, with the White House pushing for less than Democrats think is called for.”
House Democrats told the Post that the White House recently informed Democrats that they want to fund the emergency response in part by taking money from a program that funds low-income home heating assistance.
“A document that the Trump administration sent to Congress, which we have seen, indicates that the administration is transferring $37 million to emergency funding for the coronavirus response from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which funds heating for poor families,” the Post reports.
LIHEAP, a frequent target for cuts by the GOP, is essential to making sure low-income families’ homes are livable in parts of the country where winter temperatures are especially bad.
Democrats see this move as “provoking budgetary bickering and unnecessary political friction at a time when a clean emergency appropriation could easily avoid both.”
“After dithering for weeks as the coronavirus spread around the world, the Trump administration has now decided to pay for its belated response by cutting funding for heating assistance for low-income families,” Evan Hollander, a spokesman for House Appropriations Committee Democrats, told us in a statement.
“The roots of this blowup lie in a request the White House made for $2.5 billion in supplemental spending to respond to coronavirus. This would go to ‘accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much-needed equipment and supplies,’” wrote Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman of the Washington Post. “Of that $2.5 billion, the administration wants $1.25 billion to be newly appropriated emergency funding and the rest to be taken from other sources, including $535 million from money allocated to the Ebola response, and other funds taken from other programs. (The LIHEAP money is being transferred legally under budgetary statutes designed to give agencies funding flexibility.)”