Health Care — Democrats ramp up pressure over COVID impasse
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Today in health care, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is facing growing pressure to bring COVID relief funds up for a vote.
And tonight, a judge blocked the lifting of border restrictions that have been caught up in the COVID funding debate, but it is unclear if that will help shake loose the funds.
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Dems push Schumer for COVID relief
A growing number of Senate Democrats say they’re ready to take a tough vote on an amendment to keep the Title 42 health order in place at the U.S.-Mexico border if that’s what’s needed to move a stalled COVID-19 relief package.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has held the bill from the floor because Republicans are insisting on voting on a bipartisan amendment to overrule the Biden administration’s decision to lift Title 42, a pandemic order that has stopped thousands of immigrants from entering the country on asylum claims.
But a growing number of senior Democrats say they’re prepared to vote on the amendment in order to break the logjam on new money for therapeutics, vaccines and testing at a time when new coronavirus variants are causing a rise in infections and deaths around the country.
Without giving in to the Republicans’ demand for a vote on the hot-button issue of securing the border, COVID-19 relief could be stalled until after the November midterm elections.
The amendment is expected to fail, but it’s a tough vote for vulnerable Senate Democrats.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), whose seat is a top Republican target, says that Congress needs to do more on COVID-19 relief and he’s not afraid of taking a tough vote, though he won’t yet say how he would vote on the Title 42 amendment.
“I’m concerned about future variants and how bad this could get, and I do think we need to do more to make sure we’re prepared,” he said.
BREAKING TONIGHT: JUDGE BLOCKS BIDEN FROM ROLLING BACK TITLE 42
A federal judge in Louisiana on Friday temporarily stoppedthe Biden administration from ending Title 42, the Trump-era border management policy that allowed officials to quickly expel foreign nationals at the border under pandemic conditions.
The policy was due to end Monday as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to restructure border and immigration policy after the Trump administration’s overhaul of the system.
U.S. District Court Robert Summerhays granted a nationwide preliminary injunction to a group of GOP state attorneys general challenging the policy change. Summerhays, who was appointed by former President Trump, ruled that the Biden administration cannot roll back the policy while the broader legal challenge plays out in court.
Summerhays ruled the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) improperly circumvented a process to allow for public input before issuing an order to terminate the program.
The White House and CDC did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
Pelosi barred from communion over abortion rights
The Archbishop of San Francisco barred Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from receiving communion over her support for abortion rights and access.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in a letter to Pelosi on Thursday that he had requested to speak to her after she vowed to codify Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, in the wake of Texas banning abortions after six weeks last September.
He had warned Pelosi in an April 7 letter, he said, to either repudiate advocacy for abortion rights or to refrain from referring to her Catholic faith in public or else he would have no choice but to bar her from being admitted communion.
“As you have not publically repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come,” Cordileone said in the Thursday letter.
“Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be ‘concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care’ (Code of Canon Law, can. 383, §1), by means of this communication I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publically repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.”
Pelosi, who describes herself as a devout Catholic, has defended her support for abortion rights despite the Catholic Church’s stance against abortion.
“I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities,” Pelosi said in a press conference last September, noting that she is the mother of five children.
GOP RESOLUTION DEFINES ‘WOMAN’ ON BASIS OF BIOLOGICAL SEX
A resolution introduced by Republicans in both chambers of Congress on Thursday would define words like “woman,” “man,” “mother” and “father” on the basis of biological sex, a rebuke to transgender and inclusivity measures.
Republicans call the measure a “Women’s Bill of Rights,” arguing that defining women on the basis of biological sex is necessary to protect women’s rights in spaces like domestic violence centers, sports, locker rooms and bathrooms.
“The Democrats are erasing women and the spaces that are uniquely ours,” Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), who is leading the House version of the bill, said at a press conference announcing the bill on Thursday with the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House.
The resolution, which would not have the force of law, states that the House believes that for the purposes of federal law, “sex” refers to biological sex; terms like “mother” and “father” refer to individuals of the female and male sex, respectively; and that agencies are required to base reported data on the biological sex of individuals at birth.
The House version of the resolution has 11 co-sponsors, and was promoted by the Republican Study Committee. The Senate version was introduced by GOP Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith (Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Ted Cruz (Texas).
PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL DISTRICT REINSTATES MASK MANDATE
The School District of Philadelphia announced Friday that it is reimplementing a universal mask mandate beginning Monday, May 23, at the recommendation of the Philadelphia Department of Health, due to the current escalation in COVID-19 cases in the city.
“Until further notice, all School District students and staff will be required to wear their masks during the school and work day and while riding on school buses and vans,” the school district’s superintendent, William Hite, wrote in the announcement.
Philadelphia County has seen a 58 percent increase in average daily cases in the past two weeks, and hospitalizations in the city are up 29 percent over the same period, according to data from The New York Times.
Over 77 percent of adults in Philadelphia are fully vaccinated, with more than 34 percent having received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 94 percent of all residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose, according to city data.
For children ages 5-11 in Philadelphia, about 36 percent have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
CDC: 1 new death from unexplained pediatric hepatitis
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday confirmed one possible new death from the unexplained cases of pediatric hepatitis that have been detected throughout the U.S. and Europe.
The latest death, reported on Thursday, brings the potential death toll in the U.S. up to six from the five that were reported by the CDC earlier this month.
During a press briefing, a CDC official said seven percent of the 180 cases that have been reported so far occurred within the past two weeks. The majority of the cases have been detected retrospectively and most of the children who were found to have hepatitis have since recovered.
A common link that could tie all these cases together has not been found so far, according to the agency.
According to the officials, they have still not been able to ascertain whether the cases they have detected over the past seven months represent a pre-existing trend that is just now being noticed, or if they represent a spike in pediatric hepatitis.
During the briefing, officials reiterated that a possible link to adenovirus remains the “leading hypothesis” behind the potential cause of these hepatitis cases.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Vague ‘medical emergency’ exceptions in abortion laws leave pregnant people in danger, doctors say (Stat)
- African scientists baffled by monkeypox cases in Europe, US (AP)
- Abbott completes India recall of baby formula products imported from U.S. (Reuters)
STATE BY STATE
- Former GA insurance commissioner John Oxendine indicted for conspiracy to commit health care fraud (WSB-TV)
- Less deadly than delta? In some states, omicron caused more deaths (NBC News)
- Possible monkeypox case reported in New York City, health department says (WPIX)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.
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