With only days left before congressional lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington, D.C. for a two-week recess, Senate negotiators are reportedly set to announce a $10 billion Covid-19 aid package that would fund domestic vaccination, testing and treatment programs but exclude a previously proposed $5 billion for global vaccination efforts.
The deal, as reported last week, is expected to be paid for by reprogramming funds previously appropriated as part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief law passed in March 2021. Lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to fund the global aid.
Republicans had demanded that the latest round of Covid funding be fully offset by savings elsewhere, and some Democrats had objected to a previous compromise agreement that would have provided $15.6 billion, including the money for global vaccination, because it would have involved clawing back coronavirus aid promised to states. Those state funds are not expected to be repurposed under the latest plan.
The bottom line: The emerging deal would provide less than half the $22.5 billion requested by the Biden administration, and some public health experts warn that the failure to provide money for global aid could prove costly as it may allow dangerous new coronavirus variants to emerge. “The U.S. has turned its back on the world,” Zain Rizvi, research director for consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, told The Washington Post. “Penny-pinching in a pandemic will have devastating consequences for vaccinating the world, for reducing the risk of variants, for all of us.