Supplemental COVID-19 Funding Stalls in U.S. Senate

This week, the U.S. Senate failed to advance a $10 billion COVID-19 relief measure to provide continued funding for COVID-19 therapeutics, research, development, and response through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF). The new funding would be offset by repurposing unspent, previously appropriated COVID-19 relief funds.

Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Mitt Romney struck a bipartisan deal on the supplemental funding, but the passage of the measure became complicated this week over announced changes by the Biden-Harris Administration to the Title 42 policy relative to migration. The Title 42 policy change drew opposition from Senate Republicans and numerous Senate Democrats. Senate Republicans withheld their support on a procedural motion for the $10 billion COVID-19 supplemental measure after Senate leadership refused to allow a vote on an amendment to block the Title 42 policy change, which likely would have had the votes to pass.

Both the U.S. Senate and House are in recess for the next two weeks, preventing further consideration of the supplemental measure until late April. Without additional funding, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) anticipates running out of antibody treatments in May and experiencing shortages in testing supplies in June.