WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With the White House warning that time is running out for Congress to approve additional COVID-19 response money, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said a bipartisan effort to push through the funding is not dead.
Congress was expected to include $15 billion for COVID-19 response in last week’s government funding bill, but the plan was scrapped.
Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a Thursday press conference she is worried lawmakers are letting their guard down.
“I think we need all the money we can get to have the resources that we need to fight COVID,” she said. “This is nothing to mess with. …. The last thing we need is another variant.”
She has requested up to $10 billion in aid to maintain access to testing, therapeutics and vaccines. The Biden administration has warned that without the money, uninsured Americans could lose access to free testing and vaccines as early as April.
“We’ve made huge strides during this pandemic, but it has demonstrated that we have much more work to do,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle Walensky said.
The push comes amid a COVID-19 surge in China and rising numbers in Europe. The Irish prime minister tested positive during his visit to Washington Wednesday.
But it is unclear more funding could make it through the split Senate. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he won’t vote for it until he knows what happened to all the money already sent to the CDC.
“I’m not supporting further funding. I want to see what they’re doing,” he said. “This is taxpayer money. This is the money of the American people. I’d like to see what they’re spending it on.”
Pelosi said Democrats and Republicans are working on a compromise.