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White House seeks emergency money as Covid funding runs out

The White House asks Congress to provide $22.5 billion in emergency funding to fight Covid-19 after nearly all of the money earmarked for the pandemic was exhausted, officials said Thursday.

Cash previously greenlit by lawmakers — including the $1.9 trillion US bailout — has nearly dried up, and initiatives like free Covid testing will end “this spring” with no more money.

About $4 billion would go into global vaccination efforts, with the health department spending the rest on testing, antiviral pills, monoclonal antibodies and research into new vaccines.

Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, made the request in a letter sent to Capitol Hill late Wednesday.

“Using the resources of the past Covid response bills, we were able to fully vaccinate more than 215 million Americans, make a billion free tests available to Americans, order 20 million antiviral treatment pills… and commit to donating 1.2 billion vaccines to the world.” said Young. in a statement Thursday.

“They also made us react strongly to the Delta and Omicron peaks — but now almost all of these funds have been used.”

The request comes as lawmakers negotiate a broader aid package — including a White House request for $10 billion to address the crisis in Ukraine — that they hope to include in a deal to keep the government running for the rest of the financial year. to fund.

Money to run federal agencies will run out on March 11, and party leaders in the House and Senate hope to pass the bill before that date.

While there is strong cross-party support for funding from Ukraine, the extra Covid money will be controversial.

Mitt Romney and 35 fellow Senate Republicans on Wednesday asked for a “complete accounting” of the $6 trillion already approved by Congress to respond to the pandemic.

“While we have supported historic, bipartisan measures in the United States Senate to provide unprecedented investment in vaccines, therapies and testing, it is not yet clear why additional funding is needed,” they said in a letter to President Joe Biden.

“Since the approval of the US bailout plan in February, questions have been mounting about where exactly the extra money has gone,” the senators added.

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