Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

President Donald Trump looks on as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference on the Covid-19 outbreak on February 26, 2020. (Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Senators Find $14 Billion in Unspent Funds After Trump Admits to Ordering Slowdown in Covid-19 Testing

"This administration will put our country at grave risk if it tries to declare an early victory, leave lifesaving work undone, and leave resources our communities desperately need sitting untouched."

Jake Johnson

Following President Donald Trump's admission during a campaign rally in Oklahoma over the weekend that he ordered administration officials to "slow the testing down" in response to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, two leading Democratic senators on Sunday slammed the Health and Human Services Department for failing to spend $14 billion in funds Congress approved in April to expand coronavirus testing and tracing.

"While it has been months since these funds were first appropriated, the administration has failed to disburse significant amounts of this funding, leaving communities without the resources they need to address the significant challenges presented by the virus," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter (pdf) to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Sunday.

"Since the start of the coronavirus crisis in our country the President has ignored experts, denied facts, and put his self-interest ahead of Americans' lives—and here he is saying so."
—Sen. Patty Murray
"The United States is at a critical juncture in its fight against Covid-19, and now is the time for an aggressive and fast response," wrote Murray and Schumer. "This administration will put our country at grave risk if it tries to declare an early victory, leave lifesaving work undone, and leave resources our communities desperately need sitting untouched."

The senators' letter notes that the Trump administration has yet to spend more than $8 billion of the $25 billion Congress appropriated for coronavirus testing in April. The administration has also failed to spend $4 billion in funds for Covid-19 contact tracing and nearly $2 billion to provide free testing for the uninsured, according to Murray and Schumer.

"We call on you to immediately disburse the remainder of the $25 billion in funds to ramp up testing and contact tracing capacity," the senators wrote, "as well as to make sure providers are aware of and able to easily access the $2 billion that Congress appropriated to provide testing for the uninsured."

The letter was sent a day after Trump, during his first campaign rally since the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered much of the U.S. in March, declared that he ordered a slowdown in coronavirus testing in the face of rising cases across the U.S. More than two dozen states on Sunday reported that their seven-day average of new coronavirus cases increased last week.

"You know testing is a double-edged sword," Trump said at the event in Tulsa, claiming the U.S. has tested 25 million people. "When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people. You're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please.'"

The comment, which two White House officials insisted was a joke, was met with swift backlash from lawmakers and public health experts who have repeatedly emphasized that a robust, nationwide testing system is necessary to stem the spread of Covid-19 and reopen the economy safely.

"Looking at it as a scoreboard is the wrong way to think about it," Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Washington Post. "To think of it as something you can manipulate or slow down based on what the numbers look like speaks to a complete misunderstanding of what an infectious-disease response should be."

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), whose father died last week of complications from the coronavirus, condemned Trump's remarks in a tweet on Sunday.

"This man is reprehensible, my father and so many Americans lost their lives and this is what he has to say," said Omar. "I pray for our country to find a way to recover from the destruction of his presidency and heal all wounds. This presidency is without a shred of humanity and dignity."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

House Progressives: 'When We Said These Two Bills Go Together, We Meant It'

"Moving the infrastructure bill forward without the popular Build Back Better Act risks leaving behind working people, families, and our communities."

Andrea Germanos ·


Wyden's New Billionaires Income Tax Plan Applauded as Step Toward Justice

"For too long, families have been denied basic supports... while billionaires evade taxes on obscene amounts of wealth. This dynamic is economically dangerous and morally unsustainable."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Tax Them All': Warren, Wyden Lead Push for Minimum Corporate Tax in Build Back Better Act

"Giant corporations have been exploiting tax loopholes for too long, and it's about time they pay their fair share to help run this country, just like everyone else," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Julia Conley ·


Brazil Senate Panel Backs Indictment of Bolsonaro for 'Terrifying' Covid-19 Crimes

"It is evident that the president of the republic is the main culprit for most of the more than 600,000 deaths."

Brett Wilkins ·


Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo