By Corinne Murdock |
A bill from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-09) to end the COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration passed the Senate on Wednesday.
The legislation now heads to President Joe Biden for his signature. The resolution, HJR 7, was first filed in January. It received bipartisan support: 68 senators voted for the resolution, with 23 against. Both Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema voted for it.
“Looking forward to Joe Biden signing this to finally end this national nightmare,” tweeted Gosar.
Biden won’t veto the measure — meaning that the end of the emergency could come more quickly than anticipated. The Biden administration promised to end the emergency declaration on May 11.
The president’s goodwill on a Republican-led bill has some Democratic leaders frustrated. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI-08) told Fox News in a statement that the Biden administration hasn’t been communicating with House Democrats.
“The White House’s lack of communication with House Democrats has been frustrating,” said Kildee. “Going forward, we’re going to need greater clarity out of the administration. They’ve got to do better.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (R-TX-37) issued similar remarks, saying that Biden’s approval of the resolution was surprising. Doggett remarked that he desired more consistency from the administration.
Their confusion is understandable. Biden has consistently voiced opposition to the resolution, even in response to the Senate’s passage of it. However, a White House spokesperson informed outlets that the president would sign the resolution.
“The President strongly opposes HJ Res 7, and the administration is planning to wind down the COVID national emergency and public health emergency on May 11,” said a Biden spokesperson. “If this bill comes to his desk, however, he will sign it, and the administration will continue working with agencies to wind down the national emergency with as much notice as possible to Americans who could potentially be impacted.”
The House passed the resolution in February, 229-197. Gosar praised God at the time for its passage.
Only two Arizona congressmen voted against the resolution at the time: Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-07) and Greg Stanton (D-AZ-04).
The Senate’s approval came just over three years after President Donald Trump initially declared the emergency, on March 13, 2020.
An end to the emergency means that relaxed rules on Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs will be tightened up — that includes waivers allowing providers to operate out of alternative settings, or forgo application fees or criminal background checks.
It also means that the student loan repayment pause would resume, if not for the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program which is before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) currently. Repayments are scheduled to resume either 60 days after the SCOTUS ruling or after June 30.
However, lifting the emergency wouldn’t impact Title 42 immigration policy according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Title 42 allows for the expedited expulsion of illegal immigrants under the interests of a public health emergency.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.