Schumer and Pelosi Play Hot Potato With Covid Funding

Schumer and Pelosi Play Hot Potato With Covid Funding

Lenin Nolly/NurPhoto

The Biden administration has said that additional pandemic funding for tests, treatments and vaccines is urgently needed, but the money has been stalled in Congress for months. The New York Times reports that the legislation is now bogged down by Democratic infighting and finger-pointing. “Senate Democrats say they are waiting for the House to take up legislation, while House Democrats say the next move is up to the Senate,” the Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes. “Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi each say the other is responsible for pushing the bill forward.”

The funding was derailed after House Democrats objected to an initial plan to offset the proposed spending by redirecting previous pandemic funding for the states. Senate Republicans then insisted that a smaller $10 billion bipartisan compromise aid package be accompanied by an amendment vote on a pandemic immigration policy.

Now what? “With the aid package all but dead in Congress, the Biden administration recently said it would repurpose $10 billion from other programs to purchase vaccines and treatments,” Stolberg writes. “About half of that money will go to antiviral therapies, the rest will be used to purchase vaccines. But it is unclear how far the money will go if the vaccines need to be reformulated.”

The White House announcement angered Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who had negotiated the $10 billion compromise deal and said the administration’s shuffling of money meant that earlier claims that it was running out of pandemic funding “was patently false.”

The bottom line: Talks over another round of Covid aid funding appear to be going nowhere. The saga here is another example of why people can’t stand Congress.