(CNSNews.com) - In a joint statement issued on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer set some ground rules for the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus.
Bottom line, they said, the administration go beyond the $2.6 billion already requested by President Trump to deal with the emerging illness:
The statement said:
Any emergency funding supplemental the Congress approves must be entirely new funding -- not stolen from other accounts -- and include, at a minimum, strong provisions that ensure that:
-- The president cannot transfer these new funds to anything other than the coronavirus and fighting infectious diseases;
-- Vaccines are affordable and available to all that need it; and
-- Interest-free loans are made available for small businesses impacted by the outbreak; and
-- The state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The statement said Democrats "stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion in Congress and with the administration," but Pelosi -- at her Thursday news conference -- managed to fling a few digs at Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Vice President Mike Pence, who is now the administration's coronavirus point-man.
At that same news conference, Pelosi said the recent stock market drop is "disturbing," but "we want to instill confidence."
"We want to prevent (illness) without panicking people about this."
Pelosi also criticized President Trump for blaming the stock market drop on the Democrat debate. She noted the market dropped before the debate. "So you know, let's not – let’s not be silly about what that is.
"Clearly, the lack of ability to get some of the product to sell, the rest, has an impact on the bottom line of these companies. We don't like seeing the market drop, that's for sure. We hope that this will have a turnaround.
"But it cannot affect how we address the issue. Our issue is public health. Our issue is prevention. And we would hope that that would not lower the market but raise the market, because we want to show that decisions have (been) made to put this in good hands."