Biden Signs Rep. Gosar’s Bill Ending COVID Emergency
By Corinne Murdock |
Three years and some change later, President Joe Biden signed Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-AZ-09) bill to end the national COVID-19 emergency. Biden signed Gosar’s resolution, HJR 7, on Monday.
In addition to the national emergency that Gosar’s resolution terminated, there’s another declared emergency in play concerning COVID-19: the public health emergency declared in January 2020 by Health and Human Services (HHS), which impacts the ability of the federal government to use Title 42 for expedited illegal immigrant expulsion. The Biden administration said that it would end the public health emergency, which allows Title 42 to take place, on May 11.
There was also the emergency declared by former President Donald Trump via the Stafford Act. That declaration enabled Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance for 75 percent federal matching on disaster-related costs, like law enforcement and state emergency operation centers.
An end to the national emergency per Gosar’s resolution would have lifted the pause on student loan repayments — however, the Biden administration announced its student loan forgiveness program last August to work around the end of the emergency. That program is being considered currently before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Repayments are scheduled to resume either 60 days after the SCOTUS ruling or after June 30.
The end of the national emergency also means federal agencies will return to regular protocols, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s COVID-19 mortgage forbearance program ceasing by the end of May.
The lift of the emergency will also tighten up rules on Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs, impacting eligibility, as well as waivers for alternative provider settings, or for forgoing application fees or criminal background checks. It will also cease the provision of free COVID-19 rapid tests, and allow states to cease COVID-19 data tracking.
Gosar’s resolution passed the Senate last month with bipartisan support, including both Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema. Only two Arizona representatives opposed the resolution during House consideration in February: Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-07) and Greg Stanton (D-AZ-04).
Leading up to Biden signing the resolution, some Democratic leaders expressed frustration with a perceived lack of communication from the White House. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI-08) reported that the Biden administration hasn’t communicated 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.”
Biden voiced opposition to the resolution leading up to and after the Senate’s passage of Gosar’s resolution. Despite his opposition, a White House spokesperson told media 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 the 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.”
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.