WASHINGTON — We are entering week four of a stalemate over COVID-19 funding.
For weeks, the Biden administration has requested more than $22 billion to help with the next phase of the pandemic.
The funding point is that the government continues to create a stockpile of masks and tests should new variants emerge.
Congress, so far, has rejected that idea for more funds.
So, where do we go from here? What is the consequence of ending taxpayer-funded programs?
ISSUES WITH CONGRESS
During the State of the Union in early March, President Joe Biden said, “if Congress provides the funds, we will have more stockpiles of tests, masks, and funds ready if needed.”
Congress so far has not agreed.
After the State of the Union address, the President asked Congress for $22 billion-plus to fund tests, vaccines, and masks nationwide.
That was rejected.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi thought she negotiated a $15 billion COVID-19 funding deal to be included in the significant appropriations act, which was recently passed, but many rank-and-file Democrats rejected that.
Now there are questions: Can a deal can ever come together?
10 Republicans will need to join 50 Democrats in the Senate for new funding to happen.
Bipartisanship around COVID-19 is tough to come, especially as the midterms approach.
Republicans argue Congress has spent a lot of money already and that some of that should be redirected and better accounted for.
Democrats argue that previously allocated funds should not be re-allocated.
So what has been cut, and what will be cut because of the inaction?
Senator Mitt Romney (R) told reporters he is working with Democrats on a counteroffer. More details are expected this week.
TIMELINE OF CUTS
According to the White House, on March 22, uninsured Americans stopped getting tests and treatment reimbursed.
On March 25, the government scaled down an order of antibody treatments and rationed supplies to states.
On April 5, uninsured Americans will stop getting vaccines reimbursed.
On May 30, the United States will stop helping companies mass-produce COVID-19 tests and stop sending antiviral treatments to states.
A lack of funding has immediately impacted vaccines, with the U.S. scaling back an effort to send vaccines to countries with low vaccination rates.
The White House says the United States will not have enough additional boosters or variant-specific vaccines, if needed, for all Americans.
Some medical experts say another booster will be needed later this year.
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