GOP lawmaker opens door to funding bill to combat omicron
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said Wednesday that Congress may move on legislation early next year to provide more resources to tackle the rising number of COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the omicron variant.
In an interview with Bloomberg’s “Sound On” podcast, reporter Jack Fitzpatrick asked Cole whether Congress would respond to the increasing case count in a bipartisan manner.
“My guess is yes,” said Cole, who is the ranking member for the United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, adding that he had spoken with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra about taking action “early in the new year.”
“I think if you actually look at what’s happening, that’s probably, you know, spot on, if anything,” he added. “So, yeah, I think so, and it ought to be bipartisan.”
Cole noted that Democrats passed the last COVID-19 relief package, which included some $1.9 trillion in spending, on their own.
Cole’s comments come as the United States sees a surge of COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the omicron variant, which now makes up a large majority of new cases.
Health officials and scientists are racing to learn more about the variant, but early signs are that it is significantly more transmissible than previous strains.
Some early data also appears to suggest the variant may be less severe. But health officials warned earlier this week that the U.S. is in for a rocky few weeks and months.
“It is going to be tough. We can’t walk away from that,” President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“We can’t because with omicron that we’re dealing with, it is going to be a tough few weeks to months as we get deeper into the winter,” he added.