White House to seek over $9 billion in COVID funding in lame duck session

White House to seek over $9 billion in COVID funding in lame duck session

The White House is seeking more than $9 billion in emergency public health funding for the coronavirus response to the lame Congress, including new vaccines and therapeutics, administration officials said Tuesday, even as Republicans remain skeptical of the need for more money.

The White House wants lawmakers to include the money as part of a year-end government spending bill that would also include funding for Ukraine and disaster relief for damage from the ‘hurricane.

“While COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it was when the President took office, we face the emergence of new sub-variants in the United States and around the world that have the potential to cause a wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, especially as we approach the winter months,” the White House wrote in a letter to lawmakers from the Office of Management and Budget.

“We know how to handle this moment, but as the administration has long made clear, we need additional resources to ensure we have the services and supplies necessary to keep the American people safe,” the administration said. letter.

The funding request includes $8.25 billion to help prepare for a possible winter surge, “facilitate the path to commercialization of vaccines and therapies, accelerate research and treatment for the long COVID and develop vaccines and next-generation treatments,” the administration said.

The White House is also asking for $1 billion to fight the virus around the world by supporting vaccination and expanding access to treatment and testing.

The session of Congress before newly elected members take office is likely one of the last opportunities for the Biden administration to receive additional COVID funding, as Democrats will still control both chambers. While Democrats will retain control of the Senate next year, it seems likely that Republicans will control the House.

The White House has been asking for additional COVID funding since last spring, when the administration first asked Congress for $22.5 billion.

But the money was never appropriated as Republicans criticized how the White House spent billions of dollars allocated earlier.

In June, the White House withdrew $10 billion in money already allocated from other COVID efforts and reappropriated it so the government could buy new bivalent boosters.

The federal government has said it plans to run out of money to purchase and distribute vaccines as early as January, and expects its supply of therapeutics to run out throughout 2023, depending on the specific product.

The funding request will also help facilitate the transition of vaccines and treatments to the commercial market, the White House said.

Despite previous failures, an administration official told reporters he was confident Congress would approve the money this time around.

“We have been careful to focus this request on needs we have immediately and on elements of the COVID response that have gained bipartisan support in the past,” an administration official said.

“We absolutely believe that we can make our point to Congress and that they will have to step up and do their part.”

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