Billions more needed: Trump seeks additional coronavirus funding

The funding would help ensure that departments and agencies most affected by coronavirus have enough money to fight it in the coming months.

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By Hans Nichols

White House officials plan to send Congress a supplemental spending request as soon as Wednesday to ensure that departments and agencies most affected by the coronavirus have enough money to help fight it in the coming months, according to two administration officials.

The Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, has been reaching out across the government for a better understanding of what crucial spending gaps may arise, aiming to send a formal request to Congress by midweek, said the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

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The bill, which is expected to cost billions of dollars, would be in addition to the $8.3 billion package that President Donald Trump signed March 6. It is a separate effort from a broader stimulus package that the president and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have said they want Congress to pass.

But some administration officials want to give priority to this new supplemental request, in part because it isn't expected to be as controversial or ideological as a massive stimulus package, which could include payroll tax cuts and direct grants to states.

The overall costs of the supplemental measure aren't known because officials are still working with departments and agencies to identify needs.

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The OMB request will likely include additional money for the Defense Department to move personnel to different locations, the Department of Veteran Affairs to serve vulnerable populations and the Department of Homeland Security for any extra airport screening that may be required.

The new spending would also offset costs associated with some of the president's emergency declaration last week, such as more money for the Education Department to cover interest deferments on student loans.