WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is at least more prepared than China to combat an outbreak of coronavirus, said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), after attending a briefing by federal agencies on the potential for an outbreak and how the government will deal with it.
"The CDC, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, across the board I think we've got the infrastructure and I think we are prepared," said Braun, talking to Neil Cavuto on Fox News.
That contrasts the message from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said he believes the Trump administration is low balling by asking for only $2.5 billion to study and combat the virus. Schumer made a budget request instead for $8 billion, which includes $2 billion to reimburse state and local governments for what they may spend on the virus.
Schumer said the administration is not prepared for the virus.
"When you have a guy like Leader Schumer doing that with baseless, we're not prepared, with no good reasons, it reminds me of impeachment when he was doing the same thing," said Braun.
The $2.5 billion request was defended Wednesday morning by Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar, who spoke on the White House budget before a House subcommittee on Appropriations.
"I want to let you know this $2.5 billion request has my complete and full support. It attacks the five critical success factors that I made clear I need to invest in," he said. "It's at levels I think are appropriate. If not, we'll come back to you and work with you."
The request includes money for expanding surveillance for coronavirus in the U.S., support for state and local governments, research and development of vaccines and therapeutics, and acquiring additional personal protective equipment such as masks and ventilators.
While Braun said he believes the U.S. will be more successful containing and fighting the virus than China or other counties, the agencies briefing reporters and lawmakers sounded more dire.
“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in the United States. It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,” said Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.
Braun was asked whether he believes the president is correct in saying the virus is under control in the U.S. and will remain so.
"I don't think there's any way you can determine that. But, what I heard...across five different agencies is that we're prepared."