Many might not be aware of the fact that the Biden administration is still desperately attempting to pass COVID-19 relief bills, even as the pandemic is all but an afterthought for most.
According to Fox News, while not as crippling as the previous versions of COVID relief measures, the U.S. Senate this week reached an agreement to pass a $10 billion version of the latest relief measure.
That number fell far short of the Biden administration’s requested $22 billion, but those who negotiated the bill claim that it won’t cost U.S. taxpayers “a single dollar,” as the funds in the $10 billion version are funds that have been pulled back from programs passed in previous COVID relief bills.
Most notable in the negotiated Senate version is that funding that would essentially launch a U.S.-led global vaccination initiative was stripped out.
Not surprisingly, Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) complained about the lower-cost version of the bill, essentially saying that it’s better than nothing, but not great.
Schumer said while the bill will provide some of “the tools we need,” whatever that means, it “is well short of what is needed to keep us safe.”
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney (UT), who took the lead negotiator role for his party, emphasized that the bill was negotiated to address “urgent COVID needs” and because the funds for the bill are coming from other now-defunct COVID relief programs, there should be no cost incurred by the American taxpayer.
However, the Utah Republican left the door open for negotiating additional funds, specifically for the global vaccine program, if certain conditions were met, such as a portion of the funds going toward therapeutics and additional research.
White House approves
While the Biden administration initially wanted more than twice the negotiated amount, it was forced to settle for less in a desperate attempt to signal to Americans that it can bring both parties together on something, even something as small as a $10 billion bill.
“Every dollar we requested is essential and we will continue to work with Congress to get all of the funding we need,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, according to Associated Press. “But time is of the essence. We urge Congress to move promptly on this $10 billion package because it can begin to fund the most immediate needs.”
The agreement on the bill also comes in the wake of an admission from U.S. officials that it can no longer afford to foot the bill for COVID-19 testing and treatments for Americans without insurance.
Only time will tell if Dems figure out a way to milk more money for “COVID-19 relief” when the pandemic is now akin to the seasonal flu, but one can bet that they’ll continue to try.