“The Trump administration will drain millions of dollars from substance abuse and mental health programs to free up cash for its coronavirus response, in addition to raiding a program that helps low-income households pay their energy bills, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Thursday.
HHS is in the process of transferring a total of $136 million from various health accounts, an agency spokesperson said. The administration has also notified congressional appropriators of the transfers, a Democratic aide told POLITICO.
The funding transfers — which are sure to stoke congressional furor over the Trump administration’s penchant for reshuffling appropriated dollars — come after Democrats and Republicans excoriated Azar and other Trump administration officials on Capitol Hill this week for requesting just $2.5 billion in an emergency package to fight the virus, only half of which would stem from new funding.
The other half of the administration’s request would require enhanced authority to move around federal money — a nonstarter with Democrats, who are already livid over White House moves to reshuffle existing federal funds toward the border wall.
The administration would also siphon $4.8 million from Children and Families Services Programs, $4.2 million from Aging and Disability programs and $5.2 million from various CDC programs, including those that deal with HIV/AIDS prevention, chronic diseases, birth defects and environmental health.
House and Senate appropriators are in the process of crafting an emergency package to tackle the virus, which is swelling into a pandemic. Senate Democrats have pitched a total of $8.5 billion, but a final package will likely provide less than that amount. Congressional leaders have said they’re aiming to move emergency money before the mid-March break.”
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