As President Donald Trump wants to turn the page on the coronavirus issue, Congress is rushing to fill the void and prepare the country for the long struggle ahead.
Driven by a lack of federal planning as states begin to resume activities, lawmakers from both parties are working to develop policies and free up resources to avoid a second wave of infections.
In the House of Representatives and the Senate, lawmakers are working on radical proposals for a national virus testing strategy. An experienced Republican wants a public health fund comparable to a war, while a rookie New Jersey lawmaker looks for ways to get Northeast states back to productive activity.RELATED
The legislature is stepping up its work in the absence of a consistent and compelling White House strategy and given that governors have been forced to do it alone.
Congress is preparing its fifth aid package, a “Rooseveltian” effort, as expressed by Senate Minority Leader New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. There is a broad Democratic plan that Republicans look to cautiously, even if they support some provisions.
Unlike the attacks of September 11, 2001, when then-President George W. Bush called on Congress to create a Department of Homeland Security, or during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when Franklin D. Roosevelt led to the nation to the New Deal, Trump is not looking for an achievement that defines his legacy in the midst of a national crisis.
Instead, under Trump the federal government has refrained from making fundamental decisions for COVID-19 and deposited it in the states. The president hopes that governors will work out how medical tests are applied to detect the virus and find their own medical equipment, arguing that the federal government is a “provider of last resort.” The White House coronavirus task force has already canceled the daily briefings.
Trump said Thursday that he now wants to focus on economic revival.
Projections suggest that the death toll could essentially double this summer from the current 70,000 to about 134,000 as states loosen confinement restrictions, according to a model from the University of Washington.