The Biden administration on Tuesday continued its push for Congress to provide additional money to fight COVID-19, as senior administration officials held a briefing for reporters to outline problems that could occur without the funding.
One official said the administration needs funding in hand to make sure there are doses on hand to provide fourth doses for all Americans if such boosters are needed — or to provide variant-specific vaccines if those are needed.
Without additional funding, the government does not have the ability to maintain the country’s domestic testing capacity beyond June, another official said.
Officials also warned that providers soon would no longer be able to submit claims for testing, treating and vaccinating uninsured people, and the government would face a reduced ability to rapidly identify and assess new strains of COVID.
Democratic-run Washington is on track to enact a spending bill that would fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year and prevent a shutdown, but top lawmakers had to drop $15.6 billion for both domestic and international efforts to fight the pandemic. That happened after some Democrats object to how it was paid for — by taking money from states — as Republicans refused to spend new money to respond to COVID.
The White House’s request is for more than $15.6 billion, with officials seeking $22.5 billion.