Republicans: Pandemic Funding?  Nobody Needs THAT, Stupid.
Just here for the unicorn scrubs. Booster shot, November 2021. Photo by Charles Lewis III, Creative Commons license 2.0

The coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, still killing more than a thousand Americans daily, not that you're hearing that much about it, since it's too exhausting to think about. People seem to have decided it's over, which at previous points in the pandemic has generally been the attitude that preceded another wave of outbreaks. But maybe this time the decline will continue. In any case, Republicans in Congress have decided that if the Biden administration wants more funding for the actual ongoing pandemic, it'll need to scrounge much of the money up from unused funds that have already been appropriated.

The New York Times reports that the White House has requested $22.5 billion in new COVID funding to treat patients, research new treatments and vaccines, and keep testing Americans, Republicans aren't inclined to fund that, or even the $15.6 billion that had been slated to go into last week's omnibus spending bill that will fund the government through the end of September.

Read More: All Aboard The $1.5 Trillion Omnibus, Cheerio, Pip-Pip!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ultimately pulled that funding from the big omnibus bill after getting "pushback from governors and rank-and-file Democrats, who complained that $7 billion of it was going to be taken back from states." Pelosi has wanted to pass a stand-alone bill for new pandemic aid in the House, but as far as Senate Republicans are concerned, removing it from the omnibus bill amounted to killing any new pandemic funding.

“We had a chance to get that last week, and the House progressive wing blew it up,” Mr. Thune said, adding, “They torpedoed it.”

Mr. Thune’s view was echoed by other Republican senators, including Mitt Romney of Utah, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Rob Portman of Ohio.

All of these Republican "moderates" are suddenly very very concerned about accounting for how previous pandemic funds have been spent, and can't the administration simply get the money back from states, which are probably whooping it up with vaccine rainbow parties anyway?

The White House says there just isn't any more money, and did you notice the pandemic is still kind of an emergency right now?

“We need to have this money,” Jeffrey D. Zients, President Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said in an interview on Tuesday. “This is not nice to have; this is need to have.” [...]

With coronavirus cases rising in parts of Europe, some Asian countries experiencing severe outbreaks and public health experts warning of the possibility of another variant or a summer or fall surge in the United States, the Biden administration is increasingly worried that without more money, it will be caught unprepared.

With the Omicron wave receding, the administration recently rolled out a revised coronavirus strategy focused on increasing testing capacity and getting people vaccinated — especially children — and to treat ongoing infections. In addition, the plan seeks to prepare for new variants by building up stockpiles of antiviral pills and the one monoclonal antibody treatment that's been shown to be effective against Omicron, and to fund research on new vaccines that might be able to protect against multiple variants.

But there's a catch, the Times notes:

Without funding from Congress, officials warned, those plans are in jeopardy.

White House officials have repeatedly said they were out of money for vaccines, testing and treatment. On Tuesday’s call [with reporters], administration officials, who declined to be identified by name, said the White House had held more than two dozen calls and meetings with members of Congress about the emergency funding request.

The White House officials also said that, to save what funds remain, the government will start cutting back on the amounts of antiviral treatments it's sending to states, as soon as next week.

Oh, yes, and then there's the request for emergency authorization to give folks aged 65 and over a second booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. If that's approved by the FDA, the boosters would be made available to Americans at no cost — but only if there's funding tor it.

Read More: The GOP Is From The Government, And They're *NOT* Here To Help!

Those all sound like things that a functional government ought to be able to do. But Republicans long ago lost interest in government working well, or at all. It's pretty much their thing.

Besides, if we're caught flat-footed by another wave of the pandemic, there's a Democrat in the Oval Office to take the blame.

[NYT / White House Coronavirus Strategy / Photo: Charles Lewis III, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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