The U.S. is headed for “a lot of unnecessary loss of life,” the Biden administration says, if Congress fails to provide billions more dollars to brace for the pandemic’s next wave.
Congress is in recess, and the next steps are uncertain, despite admonitions from White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha of damaging consequences from “every day we wait.”
Administration officials say they’re running low on money to stock up on, or even begin to order, the latest COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. Also lacking are funds to reimburse doctors treating uninsured patients and to help poor countries control the pandemic.
House and Senate Democrats have been wrangling over how to resolve the stalemate and even over which chamber should vote first. It’s an open question whether they’ll ever get the GOP votes they’ll need to pull the legislation through the 50-50 Senate, and prospects in the narrowly divided House are unclear as well.
“There is still an urgency to pass a COVID relief package,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said last week. “It’s very, very much needed.”