Biden drops staunch opposition to GOP bill to end national emergency on COVID, will sign it into law

March 31, 2023
Ben Marquis

For reasons that remain not entirely clear, and for the second time in less than a month, President Joe Biden has caved to congressional Republicans and left congressional Democrats feeling betrayed after backtracking on previously expressed opposition to certain House GOP bills.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Biden would sign into law a Republican bill that immediately ends to declared national emergency with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, Breitbart reported.

That follows Biden's initial threat in early March to veto a House GOP bill to override a local D.C. City Council criminal justice reform measure that reduced numerous criminal penalties for even some violent crimes, only to later relent and sign it into law after it cleared the Senate.

Biden initially opposed ending emergency declaration

In January, House Republicans submitted a bill that, if passed, would have immediately ended the declared national emergency on the pandemic.

President Biden's White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on January 30 that didn't explicitly threaten to veto the measure but did express how Biden "strongly opposes" that effort and proceeded to describe at length all of the chaos and potential dangers and health risks that doing so would unleash.

The House ultimately voted on that bill on February 1, and given the apparent assurance that the White House opposed the measure, 197 Democrats voted against it while just 11 members of the Democratic caucus crossed the aisle to join their GOP colleagues in voting to end the declared emergency.

Strong opposition dropped, cleared way for Senate vote of approval

Fast-forward to Wednesday and Politico correspondent Marianne LeVine reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) "is telling Senate Democrats that the WH won’t veto the COVID Emergency CRA, per a Senate Dem source."

That was seemingly confirmed by CNN congressional reporter Manu Raju, who tweeted, "The Senate is expected to approve a resolution today declaring the covid emergency over. Schumer is telling Dem senators that Biden won’t veto the resolution, per Dem source."

The Senate then voted on the bill and, somewhat surprisingly, it passed overwhelmingly with a bipartisan majority of 68 votes in favor against 23 Democratic votes in opposition to ending the national emergency on COVID-19, per Breitbart, which thus sends that bill to President Biden's desk for his signature.

That led to the question of whether Biden would actually sign the measure, but Associated Press White House correspondent Seung Min Kim reported, "New -- WH official tells me that while Biden still opposes, if this reaches his desk 'he will sign it, and the administration will continue working with agencies to wind down the national emergency with as much notice as possible to Americans who could potentially be impacted.'"

WH was already set to end pandemic emergency in May

The AP reported that, per an unnamed White House official, President Biden's initial opposition to the bill had been due to the fact that it would have immediately ended the COVID national emergency in February.

Now, however, once the measure is signed into law, the automatic termination of the declared national emergency would be much closer to the date of May 11 that the White House had already set on its own accord to formally end the declared emergency.

What this effectively means is that the coronavirus will now be treated going forward in a similar fashion to any other "endemic" virus through the normal authorities of relevant government agencies, rather than as a "pandemic" with special expanded authorities that are contingent upon there being a declared national emergency.

In other words, the pandemic is over, folks, and the federal government will no longer be able to utilize it as an excuse to consolidate authority and assert power and control over virtually all aspects of American life and society.

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