Senate votes to end COVID-19 public health emergency after Biden signals he won’t veto

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Senate votes to end COVID-19 public health emergency after Biden signals he won’t veto

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The Senate approved a resolution 68-23 Wednesday to end the COVID-19 public health emergency crisis after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Democrats the White House wouldn’t veto it, according to a Senate Democratic source.

The announcement from the Senate majority leader opened the floodgates for Democrats to back the resolution. Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined with all Republicans to end the COVID-19 public health crisis. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) , who caucuses with the Democrats, also voted with Republicans to end the declaration.

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“Enough is enough. It’s time to end this chapter and let Americans get back to their own lives,” said Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) ahead of the vote. “I ask my colleagues to join me again in a strong bipartisan fashion in sending this resolution to the president’s desk to end the national emergency declaration for COVID-19, once and for all today.”

The House voted along party lines in late January to end the COVID-19 public health emergency despite an announcement from President Joe Biden that his administration would end the public health emergency along with a separate COVID-19 national emergency in May. Back then, the White House strongly opposed the House bill to end the public health emergency, saying an abrupt end to the emergency orders would “create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system.”

Republicans in the House said their aim was to send a message and push the administration for a more detailed plan for ending the emergency. This is now the second time in which the White House announced it wouldn’t veto a bill that most House Democrats have already voted against, putting 197 of them in a lurch in this latest move.

House Democrats were blindsided earlier this month when Biden changed his tune on the Washington, D.C., crime bill, a Republican-led measure that struck down a newly passed law overhauling Washington’s century-old criminal code that reduced penalties for some crimes. Biden’s decision not to veto the legislation came after 173 House Democrats voted along with what they thought was the White House’s stance that Biden would veto the resolution in an effort to stand up for the district’s “home rule.”

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Republicans are using their new House majority to force vulnerable Democrats up for reelection into politically sensitive votes by utilizing a congressional tool that rescinds recently finalized rules with a simple majority vote in both chambers and the signature of the president. They are using the Congressional Review Act and other procedural methods to force Democrats to either embrace Biden’s positions or buck their own party.

The end of the emergency will end several regulations that started at the beginning of the pandemic in an effort to aid the U.S. response. The change will mean many patients will have to pay for a portion or all of the cost of COVID-19 therapeutics. It is still unclear how it will affect the end of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy ordered by the Trump administration in March 2020 to shut down the southern border in the name of public health. The policy is expected to end May 11.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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