House

Pelosi: ‘Shameful’ for GOP to scale down COVID-19 relief

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). calls on a reporter
Associated Press/Andrew Harnik
 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calls on a reporter during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that it is “shameful” that Republicans are insisting upon scaling down the size of a COVID-19 relief package.

The Hill first reported Wednesday that bipartisan Senate negotiators are scaling down the size of a COVID-19 package to $10 billion, down from $15.6 billion.

The Senate negotiators indicated that they planned to drop roughly $5 billion for helping boost vaccination rates in other countries.

“Either they don’t care or they don’t know, but it is wrong,” Pelosi said at a press conference in the Capitol. “Everyone knows, none of us are safe unless all of us are safe.”

“This is shameful,” she added.

Republicans are insisting that the cost of any new COVID-19 relief to fund vaccines, treatments, testing capacity and other efforts to prepare for another potential surge in cases must be offset.

Pelosi rebuked Republicans for resisting efforts to authorize new funding to manage the pandemic, after they previously joined in bipartisan measures while former President Trump was still in office in 2020.

“They’re making statements saying, ‘Well this is not — we don’t see this as a problem.’ It’s a problem. It’s a shame,” Pelosi said.

Congressional leaders in both parties originally struck a deal to include the $15.6 billion in COVID-19 funding in a sweeping government funding bill, known as an omnibus, earlier this month. But some House Democrats balked at a proposed offset that would claw back unspent money allocated to certain states as part of the American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief package that President Biden signed into law a year ago. Faced with a looming deadline to avoid a government shutdown, Pelosi ultimately made the decision to take the COVID-19 funding out of the omnibus package altogether.

While wealthy nations like the United States and in western Europe have high vaccination rates, vaccines have been less accessible to people in low-income countries. About 66 percent of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to statistics from the New York Times.

If senators move forward with the reduced COVID-19 funding, it’s not clear if House Democrats will get on board without the provisions to boost vaccinations globally. “Hearing that critical global vax funding may be taken out of the COVID bill in the Senate. If the Senate does this, I am concerned many others and I may not be able to support the bill.  We can’t end the pandemic without global vax funding — period,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) tweeted Thursday.

Tags Biden Coronavirus COVID-19 Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Trump

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