President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to deal with the coronavirus crisis as cases increase alarmingly and criticism mounts over how he’s responding to the situation.
Trump made the declaration on Friday night from the Rose Garden with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other members of his coronavirus task force members standing behind him.
Trump said, “To unleash the full power of the federal government, I am officially declaring a national emergency. Referring to that as “two very big words,” he said it would allow him to quickly get $50 billion to states, territories and localities “in our shared fight against this disease.
“No resource will be spared — nothing whatsoever,” he added.
Trump’s declaration was an effort to deal with the political fallout two days after a speech to the nation Wednesday night that was seen as largely ineffective, leaving many confused and Wall street rattled.
“Declaring a national emergency does two things: it coveys to the public that the nation faces a serious crisis and that drastic action is necessary and it will immediately make available resources and other support that can be directed to protect communities across the nation,” former Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary John Cohen, now an ABC contributor, said.
“This is an important step that based on current conditions should surprise no one — the only surprise is that it wasn’t done sooner,” Cohen said.
The move “signals the administration is finally recognizing the significance of these circumstances and bringing to bear all available resources of the federal government to address it,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also gave her own statement about an hour before Trump was scheduled to speak.
Pelosi said House Democrats would pass a package of measures “today” to address what she called a “long overdue response” to the crisis, saying the three most important parts deal would deal with “testing, testing, testing.”
Pelosi said the bill would ensure that free tests would be available for “everyone who needs a test,” saying a coordinated, nationwide approach was needed to “understand the scale and scope” of the problem so that there could be a “science-based response.”