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Democrats cut funding for coronavirus from Omnibus spending package

WASHINGTON – Democratic House leaders have said they will remove a controversial $ 15.6 billion bailout for Covid-19 from the all-spending bill to try to get it across the finish line after angry members of the class rejected the return of unused coronavirus money to fund the proposal.

The decision to halt aid to Covid-19 was a dramatic setback for both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.C.), who negotiated the plan, and President Biden, whom the government originally requested. $ 5 billion in aid for Covid-19 and now he will not get anything out of the bill.

Lawmakers unveiled the $ 2,700-page $ 1.5 trillion spending package early Wednesday, giving lawmakers a few hours to read it before the scheduled vote.

Ukrainian refugees at a border crossing in Romania. The spending package unveiled on Wednesday will send $ 13.6 billion to Ukraine.


Photo:

Andreea Campeanu / Getty Images

The package, which also includes $ 13.6 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, comes after months of negotiations between Democratic and Republican leaders. About half of the funds for Ukraine go to humanitarian and financial aid and the other half to defense in Ukraine as well as to US allies in the Baltic and Central and Eastern Europe.

Ms Pelosi, after talking for hours with upset MPs, announced on Wednesday afternoon that funding for Covid-19 would be lifted and lawmakers would proceed with the bill. She voiced resistance within her own parliamentary group to the provision, which would offset new funding for Covid-19 with previously approved but unspent coronavirus assistance funds from some states.

“You tell Noah about the flood. “I did not get what I wanted in this bill.”

“It simply came to our notice then. We are in a legislative process. “We have a deadline,” he said.

The White House had no direct comment on the withdrawal of the coronavirus supplement.

The Republicans, citing the trillion. Negotiators tried to seize money that had been appropriated but not spent, but some Democratic lawmakers said they felt blind to the Covid-19 order.

The $ 15.6 billion in aid for Covid-19 was intended to prepare for future variants or outbreaks, allowing the government to purchase supplies of monoclonal antibodies, oral antivirals and vaccines before shortages arise. The spending bill also demanded the return of $ 15.7 billion that had been appropriated in previous bills to tackle the coronavirus at the Treasury.

“We have a job to do, we need to pass this bill, and that’s what we want to do today,” said Pete Aguilar, D.C., vice president of the Democratic Conference, on the decision to cut funding for the coronavirus.

With most bills requiring 60 votes to pass the Senate 50-50, coronavirus funding is unlikely to pass through Congress without being tied to a bill to pass, such as the omnibus, although Democrats may try. create a Covid-19 vote for help later Wednesday or next week, according to someone familiar with the matter. Mr Aguilar said Democrats had heard that some funding for the coronavirus would expire around May, “so it gives us some time, not much.”

Some Democrats from states that would be forced to give money complained to the leadership of Parliament, with some gathering in the office of Mrs. Pelozi in the hope of reaching a compromise. While some Republicans were expected to vote in favor of the bill, the numbers were not known. Democrats have a narrow majority and can only lose five votes without the support of the GOP.

“I strongly oppose efforts to seize the life-saving resources we need to fully and justly recover from this pandemic,” said spokesman Corey Bush (D., Mo.), whose home state would have been repatriated.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., California) has faced repulsion among some Democrats from states that would have to give up aid money for Covid-19.


Photo:

Al Drago / Bloomberg News

Earlier in the day, Ms Pelosi defended the deal, saying it was necessary to reach an agreement with GOP negotiators. Some Democrats were confused by the last-minute setback.

“What should be a slam dunk for the Democrats, as the science and public health party has become yet another intra-party battle – and a battle that leaves the nation more vulnerable to future explosions,” said spokesman Jake Auchincloss (D ., Mass.). Co-chair of the World Vaccination Team.

Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy opposed the removal of any coronavirus money appropriated to state and local governments. In a letter to Congress on Tuesday, they said such a move would set a “bad precedent in which states and local governments can no longer count on commitments made from one law to another.”

Democrats had planned to take the bus around noon Wednesday before heading to their party shelter in Philadelphia later in the day. The Senate will then discuss the bill and vote on it this week. But the struggle to fund Covid-19 overturned that tight schedule.

“The Democrats tossed the thousand-page bill in the middle of the night,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., California).

The high-cost bill is expected to take several days to operate in Congress, and current state funding is running out at 12:01 p.m. ET Saturday. To address this, lawmakers also plan to vote Wednesday on a government funding bill by March 15th to avoid funding failures that would lead to partial closures.

President Biden announced Tuesday a ban on Russian oil imports to the United States amid calls from bipartisan lawmakers to take action. The United States will also ban imports of Russian gas and other energy sources, Biden said. Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

The package would require $ 730 billion in non-defense funding, an increase of $ 46 billion over fiscal year 2021 and the largest in four years. The spending package includes $ 782 billion in defense funding – an increase of $ 42 billion over fiscal year 2021.

Lawmakers have rallied to help Ukraine as the number of civilians evacuated by the Russian invasion has risen in recent days. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the US Congress to provide more equipment and specific aircraft. Part of the funding for Ukrainian aid allows the president to transfer $ 3 billion in defense equipment to Ukraine and other US allies.

Also Wednesday, Parliament plans a separate vote on a bill banning Russian oil imports, even after President Biden decided to pass a ban using his own executive branch.

The legislation will also re-enact the Violence Against Women Act, after senators reached a bipartisan agreement to re-authorize the legislation after it expires in 2019. It provides funding for domestic violence prosecutions, as well as shelters and other programs. providing assistance to victims of abuse.

Lawmakers also reached an agreement to re-approve the EB-5 visa program that allows foreign investors to apply for green cards after investing in real estate or other US projects. The program ended last year due to a push to tighten its criteria.

The legislation includes a $ 675 million budget increase for the Internal Revenue Service, raising the agency’s budget to $ 12.6 billion. This is lower than what Democrats in the House wanted, and is separate from the Biden administration’s attempt at the dead-end Build Back Better bill to double the size of the service over the next decade and strengthen tax enforcement. However, the IRS will receive money specifically dedicated to reducing processing delays, which have left millions of people still waiting for refunds from the refunds they submitted last year.

I write to you Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com, Siobhan Hughes at siobhan.hughes@wsj.com and Eliza Collins at eliza.collins+1@wsj.com.

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Democrats cut funding for coronavirus from Omnibus spending package

Source link Democrats cut funding for coronavirus from Omnibus spending package

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