First cut to government Covid programs will hit Americans soon

COVID testing and vaccination site at a school in Los Angeles.

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The White House reported that next week it will begin winding down a COVID-19 program that pays to test, treat and vaccinate people who don’t have health insurance, according to NPR.

It is one of the immediate impacts after Congress will refuse to add $22.5 billion in funding for government COVID programs to the sweeping federal budget bill for government spending passed last week.

President Biden signed the federal budget bill into law on Tuesday, calling it a bipartisan achievement without mentioning the underfunding of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 funding request was met with political pushback from Republicans and concerns from some lawmakers that the White House has not fully explained how trillions in COVID money have been spent so far and what funds remain. Republicans in particular have been unwilling to agree to new spending for the program.

The White House warned in a letter to lawmakers Tuesday that the country risks being “surprised” by future variants of the coronavirus.

The White House warning comes amid signs that Covid-19 cases are rising once again as states and businesses roll back mask and vaccination requirements.

Public health experts warned that a sharp rise in cases in Europe fueled by a new variant could herald things to come for the United States.

“What we’re asking for is a modest investment so we don’t squander the gains we’ve made over the last year,” said Natalie Quillian, deputy coordinator for the White House’s COVID-19 response team.

The White House said that will have to cut shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments to states by 30% next week due to funding problems, and said the national supply of those treatments could run out in May.

Why Congress Left Unfunded Covid Programs

Leaders of both parties in Congress initially agreed to include approximately $15 billion in funding related to the COVID response as part of the more than $1.5 trillion government spending package that Congress approved last week.

Several House Democrats opposed that plan because as many as 30 states would lose access to funds earmarked for COVID but not yet spent.and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to remove that funding from the broader package.

Democrats say they will try to pass a stand-alone COVID-19 funding bill in the coming days, but that plan is widely opposed by Republicans, meaning there is little chance the measure can overcome a Party filibuster. Republican in the Senate.

Republicans want the White House to provide a more detailed accounting of how the government spent the nearly $6 trillion in COVID-19 funds that Congress has already approved. Republican lawmakers say they have not been given a clear accounting of the funds.

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