Tags: Coronavirus | Vaccines | bipartisan | coronavirus | vaccine

Bipartisan Group Wants Separate Vaccine Package

us capitol building at dusk
The U.S. Capitol at dusk in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via AP Images)

Friday, 05 February 2021 08:38 AM

A bipartisan House group called for a quick vote on a $160 billion standalone package funding coronavirus vaccinations, testing, tracing and health-provider funding, adding to pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she aims to pass President Joe Biden’s broader $1.9 trillion relief plan.

The Problem Solvers, a 56-member group composed equally of Democrats and Republicans, made the demand in a statement Friday. The separate Blue Dog group of centrist Democrats wrote Pelosi Thursday urging a vote on a narrow COVID-19 national vaccination program, before other elements of Biden’s relief proposal.

Democrat congressional leaders in the meantime are proceeding with a legislative process, known as reconciliation, that allows Biden’s stimulus — or at least the bulk of it — to pass the Senate with just 50 votes plus a vice presidential tie-breaker, rather than the usual 60 that would require Republican cooperation.

Pelosi and other members of the House leadership are to meet with Biden on Friday.

The Problems Solvers Caucus was instrumental in propelling the December agreement on the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. Now, the group says that health funding is needed immediately even as wider talks on stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, child tax credits, and other provisions continue.

Ten Senate Republicans have said they support the $160 billion in health-related spending, which was also part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion package. Those 10 GOP members would give the 60 votes needed for a standalone bill to pass the Senate using the normal legislative process.

The call comes after 18 Democrats on Thursday demanded a vote on $20 billion for a national vaccination program — one component of the $160 billion slice of the Biden plan — citing the possibility that wider stimulus talks get bogged down for months.

The Biden administration has rejected any “piecemeal” approach to stimulus, and House and Senate Democrats this week began the multi-step budget process that could be used to pass a stimulus bill with just 50 Democrat votes in the Senate. 

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A bipartisan House group called for a quick vote on a $160 billion standalone package funding coronavirus vaccinations, testing, tracing and health-provider funding, adding to pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she aims...
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2021-38-05
Friday, 05 February 2021 08:38 AM
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