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COVID relief is stalled in the Senate with lawmakers on a two-week recess

The Senate is debating a $10 billion package that would provide funding to handle another potential surge in COVID-19 cases as the BA.2 subvariant causes cases to rise.
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 1:29 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The omicron BA.2 subvariant is causing a rise in COVID-19 cases in certain areas of the country. The uptick has lawmakers on Capitol Hill working on another relief funding package.

The Senate is debating a $10 billion package that would provide funding to help handle another possible nationwide surge in COVID cases. Reps. Susie Lee (D-NV) and Dina Titus (D-NV) argue the bill needs to pass immediately. The package stalled before lawmakers left for a two week recess a week ago.

As parts of the northeast are seeing a surge in cases, lawmakers moved toward passing the bill that would bolster funding for things like therapeutics, testing, and vaccines. The stalemate occurred when Republicans tried to add in language in the bill that would prevent the Biden administration from ending a restrictive immigration policy enacted under President Donald Trump for national health reasons.

In response to the Biden administration’s decision to end the public health order under Title 42, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “This White House is using the pandemic as a pretext to shamelessly pick and choose liberal policies to advance. The effects will be functionally open borders while a state of emergency continues for Americans. Completely unacceptable.”

Lee and Titus said the funding package needs to pass before another nationwide crisis.

“The problem with government is too often it’s reactive as opposed to proactive. So we often wait until something becomes a disaster before we get involved in trying to fix it,” said Titus.

“Make these types of what I call a smart investment in preparedness ahead of the curve. I think it’s incredibly important,” said Lee.

Lawmakers will not return to Capitol Hill until the week of April 25, which means picking back up debate on the package is still more than 10 days away, and passing a final bill is even further off.

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