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Covid's toll in the U.S. reaches a once unfathomable number: 1 million deaths


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GOP opposition leaves covid aid in peril as White House warns of surge

Billions of dollars remain stalled as the Biden administration warns it needs more money for tests, therapeutics and vaccines

 

A bipartisan push in Congress to adopt another round of coronavirus aid is in fresh political peril, as Republicans continue to block Democrats from swiftly approving as much as the Biden administration believes is necessary to prepare for an expected new surge.

Five days after federal health officials warned a new wave could infect 100 million people, lawmakers still find themselves struggling to overcome familiar partisan divides. There appears to be no immediate pathway in the Senate for a long-stalled agreement to spend $10 billion to boost the availability of tests, therapeutics and vaccines nationwide.

For weeks, the White House has sounded urgent alarms about the need for more aid, arguing it has already committed most of its existing public health dollars to specific uses. Some key federal initiatives even have run out of cash, leading the administration to slow purchases of critical supplies while shuttering a program that had provided free testing to uninsured Americans.

But those dire pleas have failed to resolve the logjam, as Republicans have held up the covid aid package as part of an unrelated immigration dispute. GOP lawmakers again this week have insisted they will not allow the Senate to proceed unless Democrats first permit a vote on amendments, especially a proposal to preserve restrictions on migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.

“It’s very simple: If the White House goes to [Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer] and says, ‘We’d like to get a vote on this, let the Republicans and Democrats each have amendments,’ it’ll be voted on and passed,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the chief GOP negotiator for the $10 billion bipartisan deal. “It’s being held up for political purposes only.”

Some Democrats had hoped to dodge the stalemate by linking the covid aid to a fast-moving measure to provide roughly $40 billion in new assistance to Ukraine. But the White House asked Congress to separate the two issues on Monday, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a day later that he had urged President Biden to split them apart so the covid standoff did not delay the humanitarian support. The House passed the Ukraine aid bill on Tuesday evening.

The chain of events left Democrats scrambling to devise a new approach for the covid funding and bolster preparations for the virus — more than two years into the pandemic that has vexed policymakers at every turn.

“We are looking for every way to get a vote on it,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a top lawmaker on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This is an urgent matter.”

The clock is ticking in the eyes of the Biden administration. The president’s top advisers on pandemic response delivered their latest sobering assessment Friday: They projected the United States is likely to see another significant uptick in infections and deaths, cresting perhaps in the fall and winter, from a newer, faster-spreading version of the omicron variant that’s already circulating domestically.

In doing so, the administration also reaffirmed Tuesday that it is running out of funds to respond effectively in the event of a rapid decline. White House press secretary Jen Psaki outlined the potential doomsday scenarios to reporters at her daily briefing: The United States may struggle to maintain its supply of tests, for example, or “lose out to other countries on promising new treatments,” she said.

“We don’t want to sugarcoat it: We need more money. We don’t have a Plan B here,” she said.

The administration initially sought more than twice as much money, requesting $22.5 billion in March to restock dwindling federal supplies, though top officials noted at the time they were likely to need even more than that in the months to come. But Republicans questioned the need for more spending, arguing Congress had already adopted about $6 trillion in response to the pandemic.

The GOP first whittled down the amount, then insisted that any new coronavirus funding must be fully paid for, a rarity for emergency spending measures. Democrats couldn’t come up with a deal that worked for both sides, and an effort to pass $16 billion in new aid collapsed in March.

Working with Romney, Senate Democrats then agreed on $10 billion that would largely be redirected from existing coronavirus aid programs. But even that scaled-back approach met Republican objections, as GOP lawmakers set their sights on trying force a vote on immigration policy. They targeted Biden’s decision to resume allowing migrants from Mexico to seek asylum, which former president Donald Trump had barred in the name of public health. The GOP push scuttled any hopes of resolving the dispute by early April. Adding to the headaches, some Senate Democrats — including those who are vulnerable in this year’s elections — seemed inclined to join with Republicans in a vote that might have delivered a public rebuke to Biden.

After agreeing to split the coronavirus aid from the Ukraine assistance, Democrats found themselves struggling again to overcome GOP objections. Schumer and his allies cannot act in the narrowly divided Senate without the help of Republicans, some of whom on Tuesday questioned if another burst of covid cash is even necessary.

“If you’re going to do anything, you’re going to need to find it … in money we’ve already appropriated for it,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), explaining that Republicans’ approach stems in part from a belief the virus has become “endemic and manageable.”

The work is set to start in the House, where Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), the leader of the Appropriations Committee, is readying a new aid package — one that might add money and scope to the Senate’s initial $10 billion bipartisan plan. Democrats have weighed whether it is possible to tack on aid that would help distribute vaccines to nations in need, according to a person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to describe private talks.

Lawmakers in both parties have previously supported such spending, which can help prevent the incubation of new variants, and the Biden administration tried to fund the idea in its initial March request. Speaking to reporters late Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled it remains a top issue for her caucus. “We’re overdue on passing the covid relief, and that is of the highest priority for us, at home and again globally as well ,” she said.

But the House push could add to its overall cost, potentially upsetting the delicate if imperiled deal in the Senate. Some Democrats in the chamber, meanwhile, acknowledged that $10 billion is probably insufficient in the first place.

“We’re open to expand it,” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters.

But Democrats face an uphill battle in selling an even larger aid package to skeptical fiscal hawks in the Republican Party. Asked about the discussions to expand the price tag beyond $10 billion, Romney said Tuesday: “Nope, we’ve got a deal at ten, let’s get it done.”

Other Republicans said they wouldn’t back down on immigration. Speaking to reporters at his weekly news conference, McConnell pointed to the “bipartisan demand” for the Senate to reinstate the border restrictions, adding about the coronavirus aid package: “That’s the context in which that vote ought to occur.”

Schumer, however, has declined to commit to a vote on a such an amendment. At his own news conference this week, the Democratic leader maintained the Senate would wait to see what the House could pass once they dispatched with Ukraine aid.

Schumer then pointed a finger at his GOP foes, blasting them for months of obstruction. “The bottom line is very simple,” he said. “Our Republican friends should not be blocking covid legislation.”

A federal court could decide imminently on a challenge to Biden’s rollback of the rules, known as Title 42. Privately, many Democrats grouse that Republicans are likely to raise additional objections, slowing down needed coronavirus aid. And that is to say nothing of the complicated politics of immigration, as GOP leaders look to seize on the stalled aid package in election year — hoping to force Democrats to cast a vote on a sensitive political issue in blatant defiance of the president.

“I sympathize with them,” Durbin said, expressing some anxiety that the debate might come down to the border issue. “Schumer has tried to get us into a circumstance where [the vote doesn’t happen]. There’s some things he just can’t achieve.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/05/11/congress-covid-aid-ukraine/

 

And the next round of Covid deaths will be all Biden's fault, too.

You betcha. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/12/2022 at 9:39 PM, SaltyTiger said:

 

What's your point Salty?

You think Trump did a better job than Biden in responding to Covid?

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2021/10/01/for-covid-19-vaccinations-party-affiliation-matters-more-than-race-and-ethnicity/

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/17/counties-voted-trump-higher-covid-death-rate

Over 91% Democrats vaccinated, while only 60% Republicans have taken one shot, data reveals

Of every 100,000 residents, 25 died of Covid in Trump counties in October, compared to the 7.8 in Biden-voting counties

 

Do you really think we'd be better off with Trump as POTUS today as we approach the next likely surge?  (See above articles re Republicans resisting additional Covid spending.)

Well, at least the next surge - if/when it comes - will take out far more MAGAs than than it will progressives.  Apparently, sometimes life can be fair.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by homersapien
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On 5/5/2022 at 3:55 PM, jj3jordan said:

And he had a vaccine handed to him. Go figure. 

And a political tribe that opposed them and any other measure to reduce COVID at every turn.

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https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/13/white-house-vaccines-covid-funding-impasse-00032319

 

White House prepares to ration vaccines as Covid funding impasse looms

The government’s funds are running out. Tough decisions may soon present themselves.

 

By Adam Cancryn

05/13/2022 04:30 AM EDT

A painful and foreboding reality is setting in for the White House as it enters a potentially dangerous stretch of the Covid fight: It may soon need to run its sprawling pandemic response on a shoestring budget.

Just two months after the administration unveiled a nearly 100-page roadmap out of the crisis, doubts are growing about Congress’ willingness to fund the nation’s fight. It has forced Biden officials to debate deep cuts to their Covid operation and game out ways to keep the federal effort afloat on a month-by-month basis.

Among the sacrifices being weighed are limiting access to its next generation of vaccines to only the highest-risk Americans — a rationing that would have been unthinkable just a year ago, when the White House touted the development and widespread availability of vaccines as the clearest way out of the pandemic.

But as the government’s cash reserves dwindle, officials are increasingly concluding that these types of difficult choices will soon have to be made. And they are quietly preparing to shift responsibility for other key parts of the pandemic response to the private sector as early as 2023.

“There’s a great deal of concern that we’re going to be caught shorthanded,” said one person familiar with the discussions. “On the face of it, it’s absurd.”

The contingency planning is aimed at preserving the bare-minimum tools needed to protect against the virus this year, federal officials and others familiar with the discussions said. But many of those decisions still hinge on Congress authorizing $10 billion in new Covid spending, a prospect that remains uncertain in the face of GOP opposition.

Senate Republicans have stalled the funding request for weeks over demands they first get an unrelated vote on President Joe Biden’s decision to end Covid-era border restrictions. Despite Biden administration warnings the U.S. could record 100 million more infections through the fall and winter, some GOP lawmakers are also separately skeptical that there’s an urgent need for more money, accusing the administration of failing to account for the hundreds of billions of dollars it has already spent.

Should the Senate manage to break its impasse, people familiar with the planning said that the funding would still only be enough to keep the government’s core Covid activities running. Nearly half that amount would immediately go toward paying the administration’s debt to drug company Pfizer, which has yet to be fully compensated for supplying 20 million doses of its antiviral treatment earlier this year.

The roughly $5 billion remaining would likely be split among investments to bolster supplies of tests, treatments and vaccines. Under a best-case scenario, the administration might make those stockpiles last through the end of the year. Even then, the White House’s ability to react to a dangerous new variant would be severely limited, and funding to aid the global response would be nonexistent.

But at worst, the people said, the richest country in the world could find itself out of money to combat a Covid resurgence on its own soil.

“All that needs to happen is to have a variant emerge that’s highly infectious and causes more morbidity and mortality and we’re back to ground zero,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, which represents public health workers. “We have not finished the job.”

The stubborn difficulty in providing new funding for the emergency response has cast a pall over the administration, where officials view Biden’s ability to keep Covid under control as essential to the success of his presidency.

The White House in recent months sought credit for effectively ending the crisis, touting its vaccination campaign and widespread distribution of tests and therapeutics as key to allowing most Americans to safely resume their everyday lives. Yet the administration has struggled simultaneously to make the case for pouring continued resources to fight the pandemic — with officials surprised by the level of Republican resistance and unwilling to hold up other legislative initiatives to use them as vehicles for getting Covid funding passed.

The White House’s initial $22.5 billion request was cut to $15.6 billion in March, but that allocation fell apart after House Democrats objected to paying for it by clawing back Covid funds from individual states. Republicans further whittled the deal down to $10 billion and demanded a separate immigration vote. Biden and fellow Democrats sought to put the funding in a larger Ukraine aid package. But they decided this week to decouple the two and no clear strategy remains for breaking the stalemate.

Without the money to keep its Covid operations running, Biden allies say they now fear a resurgence of the virus in the summer or fall could wipe out the gains the president has staked his health record on — and plunge the country back into crisis just ahead of the midterms.

“Inaction in Congress is already forcing difficult and unnecessary compromises that have dire consequences for the American people,” a White House spokesperson said, adding that failing to authorize additional funding would force “even more difficult tradeoffs.”

Biden officials have stressed to lawmakers that securing funding now is critical to the administration’s preparedness later this year, particularly when it comes to purchasing new vaccines meant to better target Omicron variants. The government can’t commit to purchasing them until it has the money, sparking concerns that competing countries will get first access to the limited supply or that the U.S. will only be able to afford enough shots for the highest-risk populations.

More immediately, the administration is holding off investing in the manufacturing of potential new Covid treatments, people familiar with the matter said.

Biden officials originally planned to aid the development of a pair of antiviral pills that could expand the government’s arsenal of treatments that cut the risk of severe illness in infected patients. Instead, that money has now been withheld in case it’s needed for more urgent priorities.

Within the administration, the funding stalemate has also prompted fresh deliberations over the long-term viability of the Covid response. While the White House has publicly maintained it needs at least $22.5 billion from Congress overall this year, there is internal acknowledgment that getting anything beyond the initial $10 billion investment is a long shot.

“They’ve never suggested that $10 billion would last very long,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who met last week with White House Covid coordinator Ashish Jha on the issue. “But $10 billion may be the most that there’s any appetite for right now.”

On a private call with health experts last Thursday, Jha said some lawmakers have floated winding down the federal subsidies that guarantee free Covid vaccines and treatments to all Americans instead, suggesting private insurers take over the process.

The White House doesn’t view that as an immediate option, Jha said, according to three people on the call, due to how complex and disruptive it would be for Americans and the health system. But other administration officials in recent weeks have weighed the prospect of transitioning responsibility for vaccines and some treatments to the traditional insurance market as early as next year, two people familiar with the matter said, spurred by the realization that the government may soon have no other choice.

The shift would be complicated and fraught and take months to engineer, the people said, and no decisions have been made. There is also widespread recognition that such a move could represent a setback for the White House’s much-touted pledge to ensure an equitable response, by making it harder for low-income and uninsured people to access and afford vaccines and treatments.

“It’s really concerning that, two-plus years into a global pandemic, we’re still needing to have these arguments on how best to protect people,” said Chrissie Juliano, executive director of the Big Cities Health Coalition, which represents metropolitan health departments. “The people who will be impacted the most are the most vulnerable.”

Hoping to break the impasse, Jha and other top officials, including senior Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti, have met with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to walk through the looming consequences of not passing additional Covid funding. Among outside allies, there is greater discussion of enlisting governors and prominent health coalitions to call for action on the funds.

Yet with little ability left to force Senate Republicans’ hand, there’s growing fear that perhaps the only way to keep the Covid response alive will be for Covid itself to swamp the nation in infections once again.

“We need to decide as a country how we want to deal with the fact that Covid’s going to be with us for a long time,” said Bob Kocher, who served on the Obama administration’s National Economic Council. “The path we are perhaps unintentionally choosing leads to a more disruptive, longer and more economically painful Covid experience for America.”

 

 

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36 minutes ago, TitanTiger said:

And a political tribe that opposed them and any other measure to reduce COVID at every turn.

Wait you are blaming republicans for Biden’s death count with a vaccine and a compliant media? 😆🤷🏻‍♂️ There truly is no accountability with democrats. 

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4 hours ago, jj3jordan said:

Wait you are blaming republicans for Biden’s death count with a vaccine and a compliant media? 😆🤷🏻‍♂️ There truly is no accountability with democrats. 

1. Not a Democrat. 

2. None of Biden’s policies or initiatives made COVID worse.  I don’t blame him for the deaths any more than I blame Trump for the economic cratering that happened in 2020 due to COVID.

3. What made it worse was every doofus that resisted and refused virtually any lifestyle changes, spread unscientific bull**** and misinformation about bogus treatments, and sowed FUD about the vaccines and refused to get them.  That group was mostly MAGA Republicans but also included the pack of antivaxx crazies we’ve had since the 90s because of lies about vaccines and autism. 

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10 hours ago, homersapien said:

What's your point Salty?

You think Trump did a better job than Biden in responding to Covid?

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2021/10/01/for-covid-19-vaccinations-party-affiliation-matters-more-than-race-and-ethnicity/

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/17/counties-voted-trump-higher-covid-death-rate

Over 91% Democrats vaccinated, while only 60% Republicans have taken one shot, data reveals

Of every 100,000 residents, 25 died of Covid in Trump counties in October, compared to the 7.8 in Biden-voting counties

 

Do you really think we'd be better off with Trump as POTUS today as we approach the next likely surge?  (See above articles re Republicans resisting additional Covid spending.)

Well, at least the next surge - if/when it comes - will take out far more MAGAs than than it will progressives.  Apparently, sometimes life can be fair.

 

 

 

 

 

He was to “end this”. Here we are anticipating another surge with you saying it is fair for MAGAs to be “taken out”.

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Posted (edited)

It is really not his fault, but Biden did promise to "End this." 
As every pol does, he over promised and under delivered.
As Titan said, it was far more due to idiots on the Right than Biden.
He did have the Vaccine, but people would not take it.

BUT, by painting the original deaths on Trump, the Dems started the BS mantra of tying deaths to a President.

So Biden will be tried in the court of public opinion and found to be tied to 600K deaths that happened on his watch.

Edited by DKW 86
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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, SaltyTiger said:

He was to “end this”. Here we are anticipating another surge with you saying it is fair for MAGAs to be “taken out”.

Biden doesn't have magical powers over nature.  (Only Trump has those. :-\ )   All Biden can do is promote policies to minimize the effect of the next wave on the American people. MAGA Republicans are resisting these measures.  That's not Biden's fault.

As for those fools who deliberately push lies and nonsense designed to discourage people from protecting themselves from the worst effects of covid - all for the sake of promoting their MAGA politics, of course I think it's absolutely "fair" for them to suffer for following their own propaganda.

We're far better off without them.  They are enemies of common sense and the general welfare of our country.

I find it deliciously ironic for them to die as a direct result of following their own evil propaganda.

 

 

Edited by homersapien
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4 hours ago, homersapien said:

Biden doesn't have magical powers over nature.  (Only Trump has those. :-\ )   All Biden can do is promote policies to minimize the effect of the next wave on the American people. MAGA Republicans are resisting these measures.  That's not Biden's fault.

As for those fools who deliberately push lies and nonsense designed to discourage people from protecting themselves from the worst effects of covid - all for the sake of promoting their MAGA politics, of course I think it's absolutely "fair" for them to suffer for following their own propaganda.

We're far better off without them.  They are enemies of common sense and the general welfare of our country.

I find it deliciously ironic for them to die as a direct result of following their own evil propaganda.

 

 

I find it humorous that, as homey points out, we are indeed culling the herd...

annnd... it's time to cull the herd - Aand Its Gone | Meme Generator

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1 hour ago, DKW 86 said:

I find it humorous that, as homey points out, we are indeed culling the herd...

annnd... it's time to cull the herd - Aand Its Gone | Meme Generator

It’s not humorous to consider a world where everyone is culled except those similar in philosophy to homer. 

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14 hours ago, jj3jordan said:

It’s not humorous to consider a world where everyone is culled except those similar in philosophy to homer. 

Apparently you missed his and my humor. THEY ARE ACTIVELY CHOOSING TO CULL THEMSELVES.

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