Biden administration health officials said that they need $30 billion in additional coronavirus aid. The fund will help sustain key public health programs. It will also ensure US readiness in case newer and deadlier variants appear.
HHS Officials Told Lawmakers They Need $30 Billion in New Coronavirus Aid
Top officials from the Department of Health and Human Services briefed lawmakers about their current funding needs. This is according to two sources who wished to remain anonymous.
During the meeting, some Democrat lawmakers believe that a bipartisan deal can include the new coronavirus aid. This will help fund COVID-related programs for the remainder of 2022.
During the last few weeks, discussions on another round of coronavirus aid picked up substantially. In particular, the White House already tapped into billions of unspent budgets to respond to the Omicron surge.
This gave the administration the money to boost testing, provide free test kits, and deliver more vaccines to the population.
Enough Money… At the Moment
Meanwhile, White House officials assured lawmakers that they have enough funding at the moment from prior COVID programs. This includes unspent money from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan approved last year.
However, many officials privately said that they will likely need new coronavirus aid in reserve. This will come in especially handy if ever a new, more deadly variant shows up.
Recently, the administration presented Congress that showed it committed almost the entire $350 billion funds for coronavirus tests, treatments, and vaccines.
An HHS spokesperson confirmed that officials did bring up the subject of needing more money. The agency will need new coronavirus aid to secure more treatments and vaccines and sustain current testing capacity.
In a statement, the HHS said that the resources will help expand the tools the US needs to stay ahead of the virus. In addition, it will help the nation move to a time when COVID will not disrupt daily lives.
Republicans and Democrats Discuss Longer-term Government Funding Deal
Meanwhile, Capitol Hill Democrats and Republicans continue discussing a longer-term government funding deal. This aims to sustain spending for the entire US government and reduce the risk of shutdowns for 2022.
A fuller spending package can include provisions for new coronavirus aid and other emergency funding.
However, both parties have yet to decide on the provisions of the funds. Instead, they are now focusing on setting the budget for key federal programs and agencies.
Republicans Want Full Accounting Before Committing to New Coronavirus Aid
In addition, Republicans indicated that any new coronavirus aid will only happen until the administration completely accounts for previous funding.
The GOP wants to get a full report on where the roughly $6 trillion pandemic funds went. In fact, some Republican lawmakers said that the White House should make sure they exhausted all existing funding before asking for new ones.
According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), the administration should exhaust all available funds first. “Let’s start the discussion by talking about repurposing the hundreds of billions already sitting in the pipeline,” he said.
Watch the Adam Snyder video reporting on COVID Stimulus Updates, $30 Billion Funding, and more:
Do you support the need for new coronavirus aid to ensure US preparedness for any new variants? Or, do you think that the country is spending too much money on a program that nobody seems to understand?
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