President Joe Biden speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on September 1, 2022.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Biden declared the pandemic “over” during a 60 Minutes interview, potentially jeopardizing two of his top goals.
Republicans and Democrats are at a months-long impasse over covid testing funds.
Republicans may also seize on Biden’s remarks to challenge his effort to issue student debt relief.
Financial relief for millions of Americans relies on the existence of COVID-19 as a national emergency — and President Joe Biden just declared it “over.” It could threaten student debt relief and future coronavirus-related health funding.
In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday on CBS News, Biden all but pronounced that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind Americans over two years after the initial shutdown of the economy.
“We still have a problem with covid,” he said. “We’re still doing a lotta work on it, but the pandemic is over.”
The remarks suggesting that the emergency has ended may jeopardize twin goals of the Biden administration on student debt relief and coronavirus aid.
The White House has struggled to secure more funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccines due to staunch Republican opposition. Its efforts to obtain at least $22 billion in extra coronavirus aid has been stonewalled for over six months, and it’s not likely to be included in a short-term funding bill to be passed by the end of September meant to keep the government open until December.
“It was already looking quite unlikely that Congress was going to provide funding for vaccinations, testing, and treatments, and it’s now even less likely,” Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Insider. “It’s hard to go to Congress and say you need emergency funding, when you’re suggesting there’s no longer an emergency.”
In addition, the Biden administration is poised to renew a 90-day public health emergency declaration in mid-October at least once more. That designation has allowed roughly 16 million low-income Americans to gain health insurance through Medicaid over the past two years. But Republicans are likely to increase pressure on the White House to lift it, arguing it’s time for the US to return to normal.
Some Republicans are seizing on the opportunity to castigate the White House. Part of Biden’s legal rationale for providing $10,000 in student debt relief per borrower rests on the lingering pandemic. “Emergency powers, vaccine mandates, and COVID funding requests should be voided TODAY!” Rep. Jim Banks of Ohio wrote on Twitter on Monday.
—Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) September 19, 2022
“Joe Biden last night was the Republicans’ best messenger,” a senior Senate GOP aide told Insider on condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “He admitted what we’ve said for a while that COVID’s over.”
“The president’s comments last night kind of solidified what a lot of Senate Republicans believe, which is that there is no COVID emergency and there’s no need for billions more in spending,” the Republican aide said, adding that it may also strengthen the case …read more
Source:: Business Insider