Pelosi Tells Biden to Double His COVID-19 Relief Request

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asked the Biden administration this week to consider doubling its request for additional COVID-19 relief funds. While Biden asked for $22.5 billion in emergency pandemic funds, congressional Democrats agreed to reduce it to $15.6 billion in negotiations with Republicans. Even that request was cut from the final $1.5 trillion spending bill passed last week to avoid a government shutdown.

Pelosi said on Thursday that she wants the administration to come back to the table now to ask for at least $45 billion in new pandemic relief funding. She said the White House should request double what was originally asked for since the original request was “only going to get us to June.”

She admitted that an additional allocation of COVID emergency funding would have to be “offset,” but did not say whether the adjustment would be done by increasing taxes or cutting spending somewhere else.

She had met earlier in the day with Biden’s top health advisors, including chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to discuss perceived funding needs.

The $22.5 billion that Biden unsuccessfully requested be included in the omnibus spending bill was to be spent on avoiding “disruption to ongoing COVID-19 response efforts” in the coming months. He had said the money was needed for antiviral treatments, monoclonal antibody treatments, testing programs, global vaccination efforts and new vaccine research.

Republicans resisted the additional funding request, arguing that it must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the massive spending bill. A compromise was tentatively reached for $15.6 billion to be included with an offset from undisbursed funds still available from the American Rescue Plan passed in March 2020. That compromise crumbled when numerous Democrats opposed the offsets, leading Pelosi to pull additional COVID funding completely in order to save the bill.

Pelosi came back this week now insisting that a new emergency relief appropriation will be made “no matter the cost.” She added that she has told Biden that he “must ask for more.” Pelosi went on to say that she wants a new allocation to be bipartisan while insisting that Congress “just go for a bigger chunk.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government has added more than $5 trillion in spending, pushing the national debt above $30 trillion. American taxpayers are now on the hook for debt that is more than 25 percent greater than the national GDP. Meanwhile, inflation in the energy sector and for almost every consumer good continues to surge with no end in sight.