White House Requests an Additional $22.5 Billion for COVID Booster Shots
The Biden administration, is requesting additional funds to purchase COVID vaccine booster shots, but the proposal was shut down by Republican lawmakers. Instead they are demanding a breakdown of previous funds that have been released.
The White House, is requesting a whopping $22.5 billion in emergency funding – according to a statement released on March 15.
“The federal government does not have adequate resources to purchase enough booster vaccine doses for all Americans, if additional doses are needed,”
“The shortages will be even more acute if we need a variant-specific booster vaccine, since we will not have any existing supply,” they warned.
“The [Biden] administration does not have the funding for necessary investments in research and to support development of promising new vaccine candidates. The federal government must invest in next-generation vaccines … in order to fight COVID-19 in the future.”
Interesting that the White House, is requesting more funding – when thousands of COVID vaccines had to be dumped in 2021 – after they had expired due to lack of vaccine uptake, essentially wasting millions of dollars.
Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, told his former advisor, Andy Slavitt. During an interview on Slavitt’s “In The Bubble” podcast, Zients admitted that, “Right now, we don’t have enough money for fourth [COVID-19] vaccine doses, if they’re called for. We don’t have the funding if we were to need a variant-specific vaccine in the future.”
According to Zients, 93 percent of the allocated COVID funding that had been approved by Congress, has been spent.
“There’s very little [funds] left. The remaining funds are for areas like medical care for veterans or [Federal Emergency Management Agency] disaster relief. So we don’t have good resources to draw on from the prior allocated funds, and we need to make sure that this gets funded. So it’s up to Congress to either pass it on an emergency basis without offsets, or find viable offsets.”
Unfortunately for the Biden administration, Congress is not going to be approving any type of additional funding and are currently still debating how much should be allocated to COVID and how it’s going to be paid for.
There were at least four GOP senators, who oppose the approval of new funding and are asking that funds for the executive branch are accounted for.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who serves as a top GOP lawmaker on the upper chamber’s appropriations committee said, “The basic thing we ought to figure out is: Is there a need? Secondly, if there’s a need, where’s all the money we appropriated?”
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, has been openly critical of new funding for COVID and proposed that any unspent funds from previous packages, need to be redirected there.
“The [Biden] administration needs to take the money that’s been appropriated and use that to prepare for what might be coming down the road, if there are new [SARS-CoV-2] variants that affect a lot of Americans,” Romney said.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso agreed with Romney’s proposal of redirecting left-over funding. “We were very clear you need to repurpose money that has not been spent, that is out there, and it seems like the administration is not willing to do that,” said the Equality State senior senator.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz denounced Biden seeking new funding amid “the highest inflation rate in 40 years.” He commented, “There are billions and billions of dollars the administration still hasn’t spent from their last boondoggle – and yet they’re asking for more billions and at the same time scratching [its head] in wonderment that inflation is out of control.”
Cruz added that repurposing unspent money “could well make sense, but the Democrats don’t want to do that.”