Democrats urge Trump to declare national emergency for coronavirus, a move that would release $40 billion in funds

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AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

President Donald Trump, joined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, speaks to reporters after meeting with Republican senators, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

  • Senate Democrats plan to urge President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The move would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use roughly $40 billion available in the Disaster Relief Fund.
  • Trump has said he would make a statement around 8 p.m. ET but did not offer details.
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Senate Democrats plan to urge President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has sickened more than 1,000 in the US.

Senator Chuck Schumer and other lawmakers are preparing a letter that formally calls on the president to issue an emergency declaration, according to a spokesperson for the New York Democrat. Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Gary Peters of Michigan will also sign the letter.

The move would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use roughly $40 billion of the Disaster Relief Fund to assist state and local governments as they attempt to contain the respiratory illness COVID-19.

The White House declined to comment on the matter. Trump has said he would make a statement around 8 p.m. ET but did not offer details.

Congress approved last week an emergency spending package, injecting $8 billion into efforts to combat what the World Health Organization has officially labeled a pandemic. The House was expected to soon unveil a second bill designed to address the outbreak's effects on the US economy, through policies like paid sick leave.

The White House has announced a stimulus plan of its own, including payroll tax cuts, but offered no official details.

"I am fully prepared to use the full power of the Federal Government to deal with our current challenge of the CoronaVirus!" Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

At a White House meeting with Wall Street executives less than an hour later, the president said: "If we get rid of the problem quickly, everything solves itself, we don't need stimulus."

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