Senate Republicans expressed skepticism about whether COVID-19 funding is still needed following President Joe Biden’s recent comments announcing the end of the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the White House filed an updated request to spend $22.4 billion on vaccines, tests, and therapies, among other things, as part of an ongoing, near-term resolution.
“This funding is vital to our ability to protect and build on the progress we’ve made,” Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a blog post for the White House website. September 2nd.
But this funding may now be in jeopardy after Biden’s comments.
When asked if the pandemic is over, Biden answered yes.
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it…but the pandemic is over,” Biden told “60 Minutes” on a segment that aired Sunday.
Biden’s comments caught the attention of Republican lawmakers, who took the opportunity to question the need for additional COVID-19 funds.
“When it’s over, I wouldn’t suspect they need any more money,” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) told TNZT.
sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who had helped negotiate a $10 billion bipartisan deal for COVID-19 money that failed the Senate last spring, told TNZT he saw no way out of any kind of pandemic. -related financing with GOP support.
Even some Democrats seem uneasy about Biden’s comments.
“The variants are still there. We all hope it’s over [but] no one will predict with certainty that it will. I’m not,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told TNZT News on Monday.
In any case, Durbin insisted that the White House’s funding requests also have to do with preparing for future outbreaks.
“The president has asked in the past not only for pandemic funds for COVID-19, but also to prepare for what the future could hold. And I think it’s always clear and fair to do that,” he said. “Maybe that’s his approach to it, I should ask him.”
Earlier this month, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, told reporters that “the pandemic isn’t over,” and said the government had “ongoing talks” with lawmakers about getting more funding, highlighting the importance of money emphasized. in the country’s fight against COVID-19.
“We are in a much better place because we have been able to respond effectively,” Jha said on Sept. 6. “Congress is aware that if we don’t continue to fund the response, we could easily go backwards.”
For example, the White House had to stop sending free home test kits at the beginning of this month due to a lack of money.
dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday during a fireside chat that while the country is “moving in the right direction,” there is still room for progress.
Fauci added that the intensity of the outbreak remains “unacceptably high”, citing the 400 deaths a day the US is still experiencing, but said the overall picture has improved a lot compared to other stages of the pandemic, when the US averaged 3,000 deaths per day.
“We’re much better off now,” Fauci said. “But we’re not where we need to be if we’re going to quote ‘living with the virus’ because we know we’re not going to eradicate it.”
He also noted that only 67.7% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated as of Sept. 14, citing this statistic as evidence of “the lack of uniform adoption of the interventions available to us in this country.”
The White House appears to acknowledge that Biden’s comments could also further “complicate” the administration’s efforts to boost Americans this fall, according to Politico, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved new boosters that target are on newer omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA .5.
An unnamed senior White House official told Politico that while COVID-19 is no longer the top priority on the government’s agenda, it is “still a real challenge.”
“And when things go bad, it can go from being a problem to the biggest problem,” the official said.
The U.S. has averaged 54,831 cases and 360 deaths per day in the past week, as of Sept. 18, according to the CDC.