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Democratic members of the House of Representatives lead by Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., submitted a letter to President Donald Trump Friday, requesting he explain why he has chosen to “gift” ventilators to Russia, “despite the urgent need” for them in the U.S.
“The United States has had more coronavirus cases and deaths than any nation on Earth,” said the letter Friday. “At almost 100,000 fatalities, the United States has had more coronavirus deaths than the next several highest countries combined.”
The letter was also signed by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot E. Engel, D-N.Y., Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chairman James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., and Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass.
The United States reportedly has 160,000 ventilators, which experts say is not enough to fight the coronavirus pandemic at home.
The letter also says that Trump has agreed to send 200 ventilators at the request of Putin and to ensure “a better relationship with Russia,” according to a State Department official.
“To be clear, we are not suggesting that the United States is not, or could never be, in a position to contribute ventilators and other critical medical supplies to countries that are truly in need,” House Democrats wrote.
“But it does not appear that your Administration has any policymaking process in place to determine whether these ventilators are going to the countries where they are needed most,” the letter said. “Instead, it appears you may be providing or selling ventilators to other countries as gifts or favors to serve your own political or personal interests.”
Russia currently has the second highest rate of infection behind the US with over 326,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths according to the World Health Organization. The U.S. that has over 1.5 million cases reported and nearly 92,000 deaths.
“We must first ensure that cities and hospitals across the United States can address their own ventilator shortages,” Democratic lawmakers wrote. “The use of American taxpayer dollars to purchase and deliver ventilators overseas cannot and should not be used as political favors.”
Maloney could not be immediately reached for comment.