Capitol Correspondence - 05.17.22

Congress Leaves COVID-19 Relief Funding in Limbo

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Last week the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate worked toward the passage of a bill to provide aid for Ukraine. Following the announcement that of a bipartisan deal to advance $39.8 billion in aid to Ukraine, the House passed the legislation, with the Senate advancing the legislation to the floor this week.

The deal did not pair the Ukraine aid with COVID-19 relief funds, meaning that the only path forward for additional COVID-19 funding is as a standalone bill. The reality of moving that legislation is becoming increasingly unlikely, especially as the legislation has become mired in a political battle over the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

Without additional COVID-19 funding, the Biden administration will be forced to make difficult decisions, including privatizing pandemic response responsibilities and rationing vaccines for the most at-risk individuals. Even if the legislation passes Congress, the administration must use a large portion of the funding to repay its debt to Pfizer, leaving even fewer dollars to prepare for a new wave of infections anticipated this fall or winter.