Congressional Negotiators Discuss COVID-19 Emergency Funding; Members Of Congress Ask HHS Head To Explain Government’s Mixed Messages On Outbreak

POLITICO: Lawmakers spar with Trump team over coordinating coronavirus response
“Lawmakers pressured Trump officials Wednesday to ramp up their response to the coronavirus threat with far more funding and better coordination through a new czar, a move the administration debated throughout the day until President Donald Trump appointed his vice president to serve that role. At a closed-door huddle between Republican and Democratic spending leaders on Wednesday, lawmakers began to map out the congressional response with a massive emergency funding package that would far exceed Trump’s own spending request earlier this week. Negotiators are discussing an emergency funding bill of between $6 billion and $8 billion, according to people familiar with the talks, although that figure remains fluid. That package could be finalized as early as next week…” (Diamond et al., 2/26).

UPI: Congress questions HHS chief Alex Azar on COVID-19 ‘confusion’
“Members of Congress questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday on what they say are mixed messages from the Trump administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the danger the country faces from COVID-19. In separate budget hearings before two congressional committees, Azar told members of Congress that the spread of the novel coronavirus is contained at the moment — comments that seem to contradict the CDC’s warnings to prepare for a possible pandemic…” (Dunleavy, 2/26).

Additional coverage of U.S. funding for COVID-19, congressional action on the outbreak, and how the outbreak could impact U.S. elections is available from Fortune, The Hill (2), New York Magazine, NPR, POLITICO, and Reuters (2).