Lawmakers divided over Pence being chosen to lead federal coronavirus response

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Vice President Mike Pence has been chosen to lead the charge on the federal response to the coronavirus. But not all lawmakers agree he’s the best person for the job.

The vice president jumped right into his new role and led a meeting of the coronavirus task force on Thursday.

“My presence here today and working with you each and every day in the days ahead, I hope, gives evidence to the priority the president has placed upon this work,” he said.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) says President Donald Trump’s appointment of Pence shows his focus on the issue.

“It just shows the importance he’s put on this but also from a very calm and steady level,” Collins said.

But some of Collins’ colleagues on Capitol Hill aren’t as confident.

“This is a medical situation,” Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) said.

Crist wrote a letter to the president earlier this week urging him to appoint a coronavirus czar to oversee the federal response. He says Vice President Pence isn’t who he had in mind.

“He can be on the team. That’s wonderful, why not? Advice and counsel, and he was a governor – so was I!” Crist said. “But it should be, in this situation in my humble opinion, leadership that understands the medical emergency we’re facing.”

Crist and Collins both agree the president is taking the issue seriously. The White House earlier this week asked Congress for $2.5 billion to battle the virus.

“The American people can be assured that we have their best interest at heart,” Collins said.

But Democrats say that’s not enough and are offering billions more.

“We have a duty here to protect the people and be responsible with this,” Crist said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned the threat will get worse before it improves.

“In the days ahead we’re going to make sure that the full resources of the federal government continue to be brought to bear,” Pence said.

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