Pelosi Drops $15.6 Billion in COVID Funding From Omnibus Spending Bill

Democrats will not include $15.6 billion in funding for CCP virus measures in their $1.5 trillion government funding bill, according to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

During his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden called on Congress to approve an additional $22.5 billion in new spending for CCP virus treatments, vaccines, and other measures. Republicans objected to the new spending, suggesting that Democrats instead fund their new initiatives through unused CARES Act appropriations.

In a last-ditch effort to secure the new funding, the price was lowered from $22.5 billion to $15.6 billion, but Republicans have persisted in their objection to the expenditure.

After a string of last-minute negotiations between the GOP and Democrats failed, Pelosi announced in a letter, “Republicans resisted this deeply needed funding, demanding that every cent requested by the Administration be offset, including through state and local funds scheduled to be released this spring.”

“Because of Republican insistence … we will go back to the Rules Committee to remove COVID funding and accommodate the revised bill. We must proceed with the omnibus today, which includes emergency funding for Ukraine and urgent funding to meet the needs of America’s families.

“It is heartbreaking to remove the COVID funding, and we must continue to fight for urgently needed COVID assistance, but unfortunately that will not be included in this bill,” Pelosi concluded.

Following the announcement, House Rules Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who had pushed for the new COVID spending, said on the House floor: “Things are going exactly according to plan. Everything is beautiful in its own way.”

Phil Kerpen, president of the conservative-leaning organization American Commitment, criticized Pelosi’s letter for blaming the COVID funding cut on Republicans.

“Pelosi is reneging on a deal with GOP to use some of the massive unspent CARES Act funds to pay for increases for vaccines and therapeutics,” Kerpen said in a tweet.

In the omnibus spending package, which was unveiled in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Democrats have focused on defense funding for Ukraine, an initiative that many Republicans consider equally pressing.

Some Republicans have criticized Democrats for their haste to pass the recently released legislation.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) on Wednesday morning put forward a motion to adjourn for the day without a vote on the bill, but the motion was handily defeated along bipartisan lines, with around 35 GOP members and all Democrats voting against the motion. The bill is expected to be debated and voted on by the House Wednesday afternoon.

Hice explained his reason for calling on the House to adjourn in a statement on Twitter condemning the rush to pass the bill.

“A massive late night bill drops and Democrats expect us to vote on it without having the time to vet it,” said Hice. “The system is broken.”

“Democrats are trying to rush the most massive spending bill in American history through the house… to board a bus and head to their retreat as soon as possible,” Hice said in another tweet, referencing a Philadelphia strategy retreat planned for House Democrats.

The removal of COVID funding likely clears the way for House passage of the bill late Wednesday afternoon, as the issue threatened to cause a number of Democrats and Republicans to refuse to vote in favor of the bill.

The omnibus package may face a steeper challenge in the Senate, where a supermajority must agree to ending debate on legislation before it can go to a simple majority floor vote.

Many Republicans and fiscal moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) may find the omnibus bill’s $1.5 trillion price tag—the largest government funding bill in U.S. history—distasteful, denying it the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.

If the Senate filibusters the bill, Democrats will likely be forced to put forward a fourth stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown set to begin late on Friday.

Joseph Lord


Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.

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