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GOP Gridlock Could Delay Essential COVID Funds Until Fall Or Even Later

GOP Gridlock Could Delay Essential COVID Funds Until Fall Or Even Later

The Biden administration says the United States is headed for “a lot of unnecessary loss of life,” if Congress fails to provide billions more to prepare for the Coronavirus pandemic’s inevitable next wave. But thanks to Republican obstruction, those funds are now being held hostage as part of the intentional gridlock during the midterm election cycle that’s stalled or killed a host of Democratic priorities.

President Joe Biden’s appeal for funds for vaccines, testing, and treatments has hit opposition from Congressional Republicans, who’ve added additional obstruction to the fight by including the politics of immigration in connection with COVID funding. And despite the warnings from White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha of damaging consequences from “every day we wait,” Congress is currently on a two-week recess, putting the future of the funding in even more jeopardy. “There is still an urgency to pass a COVID relief package,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said last week. “It’s very, very much needed.”

 

Administration officials say they’re running low on money to stock up on, or even begin to order, the latest vaccines, tests, and treatments. Also lacking are funds to reimburse doctors treating uninsured patients and to help poor countries control the pandemic. House and Senate Democrats have been struggling to resolve the stalemate and even over which chamber should vote first. It’s an open question whether they’ll ever get the GOP votes they’ll need to pull the legislation through the 50-50 Senate, and prospects in the narrowly divided House are unclear as well. But what’s even more unclear is why Republicans refuse to greenlight the funds to keep their own constituents alive.

Republicans in Congress have thus far blocked bills on voting rights, health care, environment, taxes, gun curbs, abortion rights, policing tactics, and an investigation of the 2021 Capitol insurrection carried out by Donald Trump’s supporters.

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