The U.S. Senate has voted in resounding fashion to end the Covid “public health emergency” that the Biden administration had recently extended until April 2023.
The Senate voted 62-36 to end the ’emergency’ declaration on Tuesday afternoon. The motion was spearheaded by Sen. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas.
While it is unclear if the House of Representatives will immediately take up the measure, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now on borrowed time. Her tenure at the top of Congressional leadership is set to come to an end on January 3, 2023 with the projected incoming Republican-led House.
12 Democrats joined in with the Republicans to put an end to the Covid public health emergency declaration: Sen. John Hickenlooper (CO), Sen. Tim Kaine (VA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), Sen. Chris Murphy (CT), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Sen. Jon Tester (MT), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Sen. Mark Warner (VA), Sen. Cortez-Masto (NV), Sen. Jacky Rosen (NV) and Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY). Sen. Angus King (ME) is officially an Independent, but caucuses with Democrats.
The declaration of a ‘public health emergency’ has been used as a rationale to suspend the rule of law for nearly three years. The Biden administration has referred to the state of emergency as a pretext for suspending student loan payments, as well as its unconstitutional rent moratorium.
President Biden has threatened to veto any congressional efforts to end the national emergency declaration’s status, according to a statement from the Office of Management and Budget.
Ending the declaration would weaken the federal government’s ability to respond to Covid-19 surges, the OMB claimed.
“Preserving our ability to respond is more important than ever as we head into the winter, when respiratory illnesses such as Covid-19 typically spread more easily,” the statement said. “Strengthened by the ongoing declaration of national emergency, the federal response to Covid-19 continues to save lives, improve health outcomes, and support the American economy.”
However, as the CDC earlier pointed out, over 95% of Americans have some form of protection to Covid-19. The currently predominant BA.4 and BA.5 variants are far less deadly than earlier strains, and an estimated 97% of Americans have natural immunity from prior infection, according to CDC data.
The White House has nonetheless asked for $10 billion in funding for the Covid response.
“Biden officials finalized a request this week for about $10 billion in public health funds by year’s end, part of a larger request in the lame-duck session of Congress that would also include funding for Ukraine and disaster relief for hurricane damage in Florida, according to six people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential budget discussions,” the Washington Post reported.
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