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Tipsheet

Insulting WH Talking Point: We Are Running Out of COVID Relief Money, So Congress Needs to Spend More

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Let's begin with a statement of fact: Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congress has authorized approximately $6 trillion in federal funding related to -- or said to be related to -- COVID relief.  We know that an astounding amount of that money went to con men and grifters, and the feds are trying to chase down perpetrators.  But the overwhelming majority of the cash hasn't been stolen.  The White House is now trying to claim that COVID funding is running dry, and essential related services and supplies will be slashed unless Congress spends billions more.  These talking points, reported by ABC News last week, are insulting:

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Americans will feel the impact of funding cuts to U.S. COVID response next week, senior administration officials said on Tuesday, as efforts to get more money from Congress sit stalled. The first impacts will be felt by uninsured Americans, who will no longer be able to submit claims for tests or COVID treatments starting next week, they said. In two weeks, claims to cover vaccinations will no longer be accepted -- meaning the program that has been covering people without insurance throughout the pandemic will effectively end.  Anyone seeking monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID will also face a tougher battle starting next week, officials said, when the government plans to cut supplies to states by 30%. And a new purchase for hundreds of thousands more monoclonal antibody treatments, planned for March 25, will be canceled, senior officials said.

Making those cuts now will keep the U.S. monoclonal antibody supply on-hand until late May, officials said, when they predict the U.S. will fully run out of antibody treatments. "These are immediate, near-term consequences, some of which we're having to act on this week, next week, and the first week of April. So time is not on our side. We need the funding immediately," one senior administration official told reporters. Biden and his administration have warned for weeks that there was not enough money left to support critical COVID-19 response efforts, including testing at the current pace, purchasing more COVID-19 treatments and acquiring more booster shots. But pleas for Congress to allot billions more in its latest funding bill fell short last week, leaving government relief efforts strained.

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Democrats been saying this for days, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, with the Surgeon General making similar claims on Fox News Sunday yesterday morning:


In 2019, before the pandemic, the US government spent more than $4 trillion, total.  On everything.  Over the last two years, it has spent roughly one-and-a-half times that on COVID alone, with other spending still happening.  It's a gargantuan sum of money.   It's far greater than the New Deal.  It is absolutely preposterous that anyone would even attempt to cry poverty on behalf of the federal government in this realm.  The threats about slicing testing and treatments are, if anything, a giant public admission that 'COVID relief' -- especially the nearly $2 trillion partisan scheme (the alleged pandemic 'rescue' plan) passed exclusively by Democrats last year, under the banner of fighting the pandemic -- was scandalously wasteful.  Republicans assailed the package as unacceptable in its priorities, noting that only a fraction of the spending was actually targeted as COVID relief.  Much of the total outlays weren't earmarked to be spent until 2023 and beyond, including a huge giveaway to the education bureaucracy, to be spent in the 'out years.'  Mountains of already-approved funds have not been spent.  To pretend that the feds' COVID cupboard is suddenly empty is both ludicrous on its face and a damning indictment, as I said on FNS:

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Meanwhile, Democrats are playing another game on federal funding, attacking Republicans who voted against an enormous 'omnibus' spending bill last week for refusing to help Ukraine.  This, they say, is hypocrisy because these same Republicans are criticizing President Biden for not doing enough on this front, then voted no on legislation that sends billions in military aid to Kiev.  The media is carrying their fellow partisans' water in this effort:


Notice that last part: Attempts to pass the universally-supported aid separately were rejected, so the money was crammed into a larded-up bill, dropped in the middle of the night, spanning thousands of pages. Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy tried to frame Republican opposition to the wider bill as hypocritical weakness on Ukraine:

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This led to a heated floor exchange with Nebraska's Ben Sasse, in a rare, direct, back-and-forth confrontation that technically violated Senate debate rules.  Sasse was having absolutely none of Murphy's "hackery," "grandstanding" and "Twitter self-pleasuring:"


I'll leave you with the latest harebrained plan the Democrats dreamed up, only to decide it was such a terrible idea that they wouldn't pursue it, after all:

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