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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi grew frustrated with a reporter who repeatedly asked her about Covid relief aid as she reminded him that ‘people are dying’ in Ukraine.
‘This’ll be your third time,’ the California Democrat told NBC News and Punchbowl journalist Jake Sherman when he said that he wanted to ask about Covid relief aid, which was left out of the 2022 budget bill.
‘It’s substantive you like substantive questions,’ Sherman said.
‘Yeah, well, people are dying in Ukraine and all of that, you know,’ Pelosi said. ‘People are dying of Covid, too,’ Sherman shot back.
Pelosi told reporters that she advised the Biden administration to ask for double what they originally sought – as much as $45 billion for fourth booster and variant-specific vaccines, therapeutics and testing.
‘What I’ve said to the administration is: You must ask for more,’ she said. ‘We want it to be bipartisan, we need it to be paid for. So let’s just go for a bigger chunk. I think they should be double what they asked for, because even when they were asking for like 20-some [billion dollars] it was only going to get us to June,’ Pelosi said.
She again insisted that the cost of the relief needed to be ‘offset.’
‘The last thing we need is another variant,’ Pelosi said. ‘The resources that we would have had in the bill I think need to be enhanced now because we’re another week later and we still don’t have it.’
Still, Pelosi said that most of her conversations with the White House over the past week have been about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi grew frustrated with a reporter who repeatedly asked her about Covid relief aid as she reminded him that ‘people are dying’ in Ukraine
The White House originally asked Congress to include $22.5 billion in funding to fight the ongoing pandemic, but that number was slashed to $15.6 billion after negotiations between Republicans and Democrats
The White House originally asked Congress to include $22.5 billion in funding to fight the ongoing pandemic, but that number was slashed to $15.6 billion after negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.
Many Republicans still questioned whether any money was necessary at all, claiming there were leftover funds from previous Covid measures that had yet to be used. Then, a number of House Democrats – and governors – balked at the plan to repurpose $7 billion in leftover state Covid funds from the American Rescue Plan.
The relief funding was ultimately left out of the budget, which passed five months late and just ahead of a deadline that would have triggered a government shutdown. House Democrats are now working up a separate Covid relief bill, but will need to court 10 Republican votes in the Senate. If relief had been left in the budget bill, it slipped by with the rest of the provisions through reconciliation and avoided the 60-vote filibuster hurdle.
Pelosi reportedly became furious Thursday morning with members of her own party during a private Democratic whip meeting over funding being left out, according to Politico.
Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra and Dr. Anthony Fauci came to Capitol Hill Thursday to underscore the need for more Covid funding. After they spoke, Pelosi apologized to them for having to come down to the Capitol. then turned to her own members. ‘You want to tell me about what you didn’t get? Don’t tell Noah about the flood!’
As of Wednesday there were 31,152 average daily Covid-19 cases, down 43% from two weeks ago, and 1,268 average daily deaths, down 31%.
The White House put out a press release Tuesday warning that they will soon run out of monoclonal antibody treatments as soon as late May and would not be able to offer a fourth booster and variant-specific vaccines to all Americans unless Congress provides more funding.
There is currently only enough funding to offer a fourth booster to immunocompromised Americans.
The White House told governors Tuesday morning it would cut the number of monoclonal antibody treatments being sent to states by 30 percent starting next week, an official said.
‘We’ll likely run out of these treatments for our most vulnerable … Americans by the end of the year if not sooner,’ the official said.
Moderate Republicans who could be swayed to vote for further aid are still insisting it’s paid for, and demanding a full accounting of where other aid money has gone so far. However, they blame House progressives for to destroyed the chance to keep aid in the budget plan.
‘Believe it or not, the administration has not provided the information that we Republicans asked for,’ said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said, according to Politico. ‘Nevertheless, Leader Schumer did agree with our leadership [on] a $15 billion package with money repurposed with prior Covid funds. It was stopped, as you know, by House progressives. But the money was there.’
‘We had a chance to get that last week, and the House progressive wing blew it up,’ Sen. John Thune, R-N.D., said. ‘They torpedoed it.’
Sen. Richard Shelby, Ala., ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said he was ‘open-minded on further aid, but first called for an accounting of how previous funds had been used.
‘I’m not convinced of the need yet, but I don’t know for sure. So I’m open-minded on that,’ Shelby said. ‘But I’d like to see — and I’ve said this — we need a real accounting for the money.’
He said if the money is ‘not hidden’ and a need is demonstrated, Republicans could get on board.