The Biden administration is rolling out a new Covid-19 strategy as the country heads into the next phase of the pandemic response.
Background: In March 2021, lawmakers signed into law Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 legislation.
On Tuesday, the President emphasized a need for the country to return to “normal” during his first State of the Union address. However, it’s primarily been Democrat-led cities and communities still hanging on to outdated Covid mandates like mask mandates and keeping offices closed.
“Covid need not control our lives,” Biden said at the address.
“Of course, continuing this costs money. I will soon send Congress a request,” President Biden said. “The vast majority of Americans have used these tools and may want to again, so I expect Congress to pass it quickly.”
Details: Last month, the Biden administration told Congress it requires another 30 billion in coronavirus response aid. The request includes $17.9 billion for medical countermeasures like antivirals, $4.9 billion for testing capacity, and $2.7 billion to combat future variants. (per The Wall Street Journal)
Context: President Biden has seen his approval ratings steadily sink. Many Americans have asserted he has not done enough to end Covid-19 as he promised on the campaign trail.
Biden’s unpopularity with the American people is sure to affect the November midterms as Democrats try to hold on to their historically slim majorities in Congress.
What Happened: The Biden administration’s new National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan focuses on four primary goals.
-Protecting against Covid-19 and concentrating on treatment
-Planning for new variants
-Preventing future shutdowns
-Global vaccine donations
The Catch: President Biden emphasized his new strategy will cost but refuses to give a rough estimate. Republican lawmakers will likely create a tough hurdle after the administration’s historic spending thus far.
What Republicans Say: On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney led 35 GOP lawmakers in a letter to Biden requesting specific details on how the federal government has allocated Covid-19 funding so far.
“Before we would consider supporting an additional $30 billion for Covid-19 relief, Congress must receive a full accounting of how the government has already spent the first $6 trillion,” according to the letter. (per The Wall Street Journal)
What Democrats Say: Democrats have agreed with Biden and claimed more funding is imperative for the next phase of fighting Covid-19.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D. N.Y.) said, “I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in getting some new kinds of funding to deal with, to keep us normal, God forbid another variant comes along.” (per The Wall Street Journal)