On Friday, the Biden Administration announced that the COVID-19 public health emergency has been extended for an additional three months until October 13, 2022.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, officially renewed the emergency declaration “as a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic.”
The health emergency declaration allows for certain individuals to receive COVID testing, vaccines and treatment paid for by taxpayers and was expected to be renewed. Officials, who remain unnamed, told Bloomberg this week that the White House is expected to renew the emergency declaration.
“The Public Health Emergency declaration continues to provide us with tools and authorities needed to respond,” a Biden administration official told CNN this week. “The [order] provides essential capabilities and flexibilities to hospitals to better care for patients, particularly if we were to see a significant increase in hospitalizations in the coming weeks.”
However, pushback is beginning to be seen from more than just the usual suspects, present company included. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board responded to the order, saying the Biden Administration wants a “perpetual emergency.”
“Monday’s news leak that the Biden Administration will extend the Covid-19 public-health emergency—which had been scheduled to end on Friday—for another 90 days was no surprise for a White House that seems to want a perpetual emergency,” the article began.
“The Biden Administration claims the declaration provides critical regulatory flexibility. But emergency-use authorizations for vaccines and treatments are governed by a separate statute. The Health and Human Services Department could also make permanent other regulation flexibility such as Medicare coverage for telehealth services,” they continued.
Republicans have unsuccessfully called on the administration to end the Public Health Emergency.
“Today we call on your administration to do what so many states and other countries already have: accept that COVID-19 is endemic, recognize that current heavy-handed government interventions are doing more harm than good, and immediately begin the process by which we unwind the PHE so our country can get back to normal,” GOP members of Congress wrote in a letter back in February, before the previous renewal in April.
Not long after, in March, Republicans spearheaded an effort to bring the national emergency to an end, passing it in the Senate, even though it did not pass the House. After the bill passed the Senate, President Biden issued a statement threatening to veto the bill.
“The robust powers this emergency declaration provides the federal government are no longer necessary and Congress must debate, and ultimately repeal them, in order to begin the process of unwinding the powers the government took hold of during the peak of the crisis,” Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said on the Senate floor at the time.
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