Congress Might Punt COVID $10 Million Relief Bill Over Title 42 Amendment

Congress Might Punt COVID $10 Million Relief Bill Over Title 42 Amendment a general view of the u.s. capitol building A general view of the U.S. Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C., on April 6. (Graeme Sloan/AP Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 07 April 2022 08:18 AM

Republican senators' desire to extend the Title 42 order could force Democrats to delay a COVID preparedness funding package, Axios reported.

With the Biden administration saying it's running out of money to help guard against COVID-19 surges and future pandemics, lawmakers wanted to focus on a $10 billion coronavirus preparedness package.

However, Republicans are demanding a vote on an amendment to the legislation that would block the administration's plans to end Title 42, a pandemic-inspired public health policy used to expel migrants at the southern border, Axios reported.

Some moderate Democrats also support Title 42, but adding it would make the bill unacceptable to House progressives, Axios noted.

Democrats therefore might punt the COVID preparedness funding package until the end of this month, though the package likely will remain stuck until the party resolves its internal differences over immigration and border policies.

Republicans blocked Democrats' attempt Tuesday to begin Senate debate on the $10 billion COVID-19 compromise. All 50 GOP members opposed the move, leaving Democrats 13 votes short of the 60 votes they had needed to prevail.

"I think there will have to be" an amendment preserving the immigration restrictions "in order to move the bill" bolstering federal pandemic efforts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters.

President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wanted Congress to approve the pandemic bill before lawmakers leave for a two-week recess beginning Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week announced that the Title 42 order will remain in effect until May 23 to allow border officials time to prepare for its termination and to ramp up COVID-19 vaccines for arriving migrants.

Three GOP-led states — Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri — filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Sunday in a bid to prevent it from ending Title 42.

Late last month, the federal program that pays for testing and treatment for the uninsured stopped accepting claims for testing and treatment due to insufficient funds.

Politico reported the funding bill would help restart key COVID-19 programs, including the development of future variant-specific vaccines and federal government purchases of drugs for people at risk of hospitalization.

The COVID funding package was cut from more than $30 billion federal officials originally argued was needed to $22.5 billion the White House pitched last month to $15.6 billion congressional leaders tried to attach to the 2022 spending bill, Axios reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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