(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats are criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to send 200 ventilators to Russia at a cost to taxpayers of about $5.6 million, saying the equipment should be reserved for coronavirus patients in the U.S.
The ventilators should be kept in the U.S. because of the “urgent” need here, according to a letter sent to the White House Friday by the heads of several House committees. The Trump administration notified Congress about the use of the use of the funds this week.
“It appears you may be providing or selling ventilators to other countries as gifts or favors to serve your own political or personal interests without any meaningful strategic justification, thorough interagency process, or policy rationale for doing so,” according to the letter, signed by lawmakers including House Oversight and Government Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel.
The letter requested that the administration provide documentation and invoices regarding the ventilators and summaries of discussions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump.
There were concerns in the early weeks of the pandemic that the number of patients needing the breathing machines would outpace the supply. But as cases have begun to subside in hot spots, such as New York and New Jersey, hospitals report having many more ventilators than they need. At the same time, Ford Motor Co. and General Electric Co. plan to produce 50,000 ventilators in converted factories by mid-July.
Russia now has the second-highest number of reported Covid-19 infections after the U.S.
Trump’s relationship with Russia has been a point of contention for Democrats and some Republicans, who have been skeptical of the president’s attempts to thaw relations with Putin’s government.
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